Chicago Nonprofit Empowers Women Struggling With Infertility to Build Families

by Deonna Anderson

In 2013 Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, health educator and executive minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, founded Fertility for Colored Girls (FFCG), with her husband Earl Dunn, Sr. FFCG is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to provide education, awareness, support and encouragement to African American women/couples and other women of color experiencing infertility and seeking to build the families of their dreams.” After experiencing failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) seven times and a miscarriage within seven years before their daughter in 2014, the couple was inspired to change the culture of silence surrounding infertility, particularly in the Black community, and the concept of FFCG was born.

According to Dr. Desiree McCarthy-Keith, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, approximately 11.5% of African American women experience a variety of infertility problems compared to 7% of white women. In addition to being more likely to experience infertility issues, many African American women are less likely to seek treatment due to stereotypes, misinformation, cultural stigma and lack of access to options. And unfortunately, the support and education is not available to women and couples who experience infertility problems. “We give support particularly to African American women, but we welcome anyone who comes our way,” Edwards-Dunn said.

FFCG is enthusiastic about education and spreading the information they’ve acquired in the last two years. “In starting this organization, I learned a lot,” said Edwards-Dunn. They plan to start focusing on providing information for women in their 20s and early 30s so that they can take agency over their bodies early. FFCG, which has chapters in Chicago, Illinois; Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; and, the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area, currently offer support groups, counseling, weekly prayer calls and webinars. FFCG is planning to expand both their chapters and services to help more women and couples. “It’s very likely that we’ll be in NY by the end of the year,” Edwards-Dunn said.

Only 15 states cover IVF treatment, which can run women and couples up to $20,000. Illinois, where FFCG is headquartered is one of those states, providing women and couple with up to four IVFs. “Part of what we do, in addition to education, is help grow families,” Edwards-Dunn said. FFCG also provides support for families who choose to adopt. According to Adoption Help, adoption of newborns can cost $10,000—$30,000.

Over the past two years, FFCG has provided women and couples with emotional and spiritual support. As FFCG grows, they hope to continue to provide this in addition to financial support to families. Their approach is holistic and gives women and couples the information to be able to make informed decisions. Last year, FFCG was able to assist a family with IVF costs, in partnership with Fertility Centers of Illinois. That gift resulted in a family in Mississippi getting pregnant with twins that are due in August.

This year, FFCG is offering their inaugural Gift of Hope Award, which is designed to offer up to $10,000 to a woman or couple who has been diagnosed with infertility. The gift can be used to offset fertility treatments and adoption. Applications for this award are available online and will be accepted until mid-July. The winner will be recognized in Chicago on August 1st at FFCG's 3rd Annual Hats, Heels and Hankies Tea, the organization's major yearly fundraiser. “This isn’t about money. It’s about helping people and giving hope,” Edwards-Dunn said.

Photo: Shutterstock

Deonna Anderson is Junior Editor at For Harriet. Follow her on Twitter @iamDEONNA.

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