The Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family believes that in order to achieve optimal outcomes for children, children need: safe, stable and nurturing relationships; attention to physical and mental health needs; a safe community and absence of material hardship; and opportunities for education. While Boston Medical Center has the inherent capacity to address children’s physical and behavioral health needs, there is still a demand to develop more partnerships to tackle these additional preconditions for well-being.

In order to help families—especially those served at BMC and connected to BMC’s Vital Village Network—achieve these broader goals, the Center has been awarded a Seeding Innovative Partnerships grant from The Boston Foundation's Early Childhood Initiative Fund to forge a partnership with Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath). EMPath, a Boston based non-profit, disrupts poverty by using Mobility Mentoring®, a brain science informed coaching model that helps people achieve upward economic mobility. EMPath Mobility Mentors utilize the Bridge to Self Sufficiency® as a comprehensive tool to guide families through the process of accomplishing their long-term economic and personal goals related to family stability, well-being, education, financial management and career management. Through this collaborative grant, BMC and EMPath hope to improve health outcomes for families facing financial hardship while simultaneously strengthening the relationship of these two entities working toward a common goal.

A central element of developing this collaboration is providing BMC and the Vital Village Network staff with a deep understanding of EMPath’s approach, while familiarizing EMPath staff with the challenges and opportunities of operating in the context of a health care delivery system serving vulnerable populations in the early 21st century. During this planning year, some Family Navigators from the Department of Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Scholars from the Vital Village Network have received training in Mobility Mentoring®, while EMPath staff have been able to observe patient flow through obstetrics and pediatrics. The partnership is also working closely with BMC’s StreetCred team to consider how to best integrate this initiative with other services at BMC that promote financial well-being and address material hardships.

On February 8, the partnership presented at The Boston Foundation’s Early Childhood Coffee & Conversation forum, bolstered by the enthusiastic testimony of a Vital Village Network Breastfeeding Scholar. The outcome of this award will be a design for a pilot program that allows for EMPath's approach, including Mobility Mentoring® and the Bridge to Self Sufficiency®, to be embedded in the context of health service delivery for pregnant women, new mothers and their families at BMC and The Vital Village Network.