Roots4Change (Raíces para el Cambio) is the first immigrant marketing cooperative in Dane County focusing on health. We are working to change the maternal and child health landscape to address inequities in perinatal well-being, by empowering families and challenging the system. Roots4Change (R4C) is owned by six independent social enterprises led by Latina and indigenous doulas and community health workers, who walk with families in their journeys of parenting, childbirth, motherhood, womanhood. Our ultimate goal is to develop a community leadership from within.
To foster allied health professions for Latinos (as) in Dane County by supporting the native and traditional knowledge nested in our community on well-being practices. Together, we want to reclaim our collective values of childbirth and parenting.
To live in a county where the diverse make-up of Latino families participates in the co-creation of the high quality maternal and child well-being support they deserve.
Our story starts with Centro Hispano of Dane County (Centro) and a community’s yearning for something beyond social services. In 2012, Centro’s leadership, staff, and community members identified the need to invest in the creation of a program emphasizing leadership development, community activism, and enrichment activities. In 2014, Centro, in partnership with the community, created a community-focused Programa Bienestar (Wellness Program), with the goal of developing health and wellness educational opportunities proactively fueled by input from the community to reduce observed health disparities among the Latino population. Programming was divided into two components:
1) Food Security and Culture, and
2) Training of community health workers (CHWs), which served as a framework to increase community capacity from the ground up and with the goal of developing community educators capable of igniting change one family at the time.
The training of CHWs took almost one-year and half and with the support of UW-Partnership Program, UnitedWay of Dane County, City of Madison (CBO grant), UW-Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, Public Health Madison and Dane County, Center for Children and Family Well-being at the School of Human Ecology, formerly named UW-Health, now UW-Health, Unity Point Health-Meriter & Quartz, Madison Cooperative Development Council, and numerous health care providers who donated their time and expertise, Centro was able to provide the organizational, educational, and funding to support this program. From the beginning Centro set forth the ground work to do community organizing from the ground-up, knowing that the “return in investment” was not going to be guided by a capitalistic view, but rather, by a human development framework based on community education and change from within.
As with every birth, growth and development follow. In November 2018, the promotoras/doulas created Roots4Change Marketing Cooperative (R4C), in order to increase their financial sustainability and embark in a social entrepreneurship model. To this end, the R4C aims to provide community-based wellness services consistent with their mission of grassroots social justice, health equity, and community engagement work, with the goal of breaking down disparities by race/ethnicity, immigration or residency status, gender identity, class, and other categories.
We work to create new paradigms of health and well-being with our Latinx/Indigenous community in Dane County and beyond. Change does not happen in silos, nor knowledge can be fertile if only some have access to it. We welcome new partnerships and to seek to nurture the ones we have forged.