Brooklyn-based startup Mae Health has successfully closed an oversubscribed seed funding round, led by Jumpstart Nova, with a focus on improving Black maternal health outcomes. This investment round also saw participation from prominent investors such as the Astia Fund, Impact Engine, Joyance Partners, and Gratitude Railroad, alongside early investors RH Capital, Avestria Ventures, Bright Ventures, and the Social Starts Health & Happiness Fund.

The urgent need for interventions in Black maternal health is underscored by stark statistics: Black Americans face a maternal mortality rate more than two and a half times higher than other demographic groups. Furthermore, an estimated 16% of Black babies are born in areas with limited or no access to maternity care services, exacerbating existing disparities. Against this backdrop, Mae’s seed raise represents a crucial step towards addressing these inequalities and improving maternal and infant health outcomes.

Mae’s approach combines a digital engagement and risk-tracking platform with community-based doula support to empower expectant mothers, particularly those from underserved communities. By centering the pregnant person throughout the perinatal journey, Mae aims to reduce disparate maternal health outcomes, including preterm births and non-medically necessary C-sections.

Already, Mae’s efforts have yielded promising results, with beneficiaries across six states experiencing a 30% reduction in C-section rates and preterm birth rates compared to national averages for Black women. Additionally, Mae has fostered partnerships to support capacity building and sustainability for birth workers of color, recognizing the importance of culturally competent care in improving maternal health outcomes.

“Since our founding, our goal at Mae has been to create more seamless pathways for established, impactful clinical interventions to reach more birthing people of color, and we’re thrilled by the progress we’ve made in our earliest years. We are grateful for the partnership of Jumpstart Nova and our growing community of investors in believing deeply in this mission, and working collaboratively with us to drive towards improvements in maternal health equity,” says Mae’s Founder and CEO, Maya Hardigan.

One notable aspect of Mae’s approach is its focus on Medicaid partnerships, recognizing that Medicaid covers nearly half of all births and a significant portion of Black births nationally. By collaborating with states and Managed Care Organizations, Mae aims to deploy innovative maternal health initiatives and promote fully covered doula benefits to individuals covered under Medicaid.

“Venture capital has an outsized influence on which healthcare ideas and problems are perceived as worth funding and will make money. Saving Black mothers is worth funding and investing in Mae will generate significant returns. Despite over $50 billion USD invested in the U.S. pregnancy care market, total morbidity costs for all U.S. births are estimated to be $32 billion USD and many of these costs are avoidable. We are failing our mothers. Mae has created a culturally competent care model fit for diverse patient populations, a growing population that represents nearly half of the births in the U.S.” Kathryne Cooper, Partner at ,Jumpstart Nova

Moving forward, Mae remains committed to increasing the overall doula provider workforce and supporting doulas interested in Medicaid participation. By harnessing the collective expertise of community-based stakeholders, managed care organizations, and state Departments of Health, Mae seeks to drive meaningful change for Black mothers and their communities.

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