More women in the Chattanooga region will be able to obtain long-term birth control through A Step Ahead Chattanooga, thanks to a grant of $250,000 from The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation. The news was announced by Soderberg Executive Director Jessica Millman at a major donor event at the home of Paul Neely and Susan Street on Monday.
The leadership of A Step Ahead Chattanooga began discussions with The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation this spring prompted by an uptick in requests for contraceptive services in late 2018. “Our service numbers were up 94 percent in the first quarter over 2018 and 97 percent in the second quarter,” said Board President Sarah Ross. “We are so thankful that the Soderbergs recognize the importance of what we do and are supporting it this generously.”
Guided by the principle that each donation provides an opportunity to be as impactful as possible, The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation engages in venture philanthropy through grant-making and collaborative partnerships that have maximum and catalytic impact with the goal of boosting the quality of life for all people, with an emphasis on women and children, said officials.
“Providing access to contraceptive options helps to ensure that women are empowered to make the best decisions about their health and to plan for their family’s needs—and ensure that children specifically have the best start at life,” said Elsa Soderberg.
The grant period ranges from Aug. 5, 2019 through March 15, 2020. During the grant period, new and increased gifts from Hamilton County donors will be matched dollar for dollar, and new dollars raised in 10 surrounding Tennessee counties will be matched two dollars for every dollar raised up to $200,000.
A Step Ahead Chattanooga is a prevention-only organization that provides information about all methods of birth control and ensures free access to long-term reversible methods, such as implants and intrauterine devices, to women in 11 Tennessee counties. Depending on the specific device selected, IUDs and implants are effective for three, five or 10 years. If and when the user feels ready to become pregnant and has it removed, she returns to her baseline fertility. Since opening its doors in Chattanooga in late 2014, A Step Ahead Foundation Chattanooga has connected more than 2,900 women with long-term, reversible birth control.
“Community education is also a major component of our mission,” said Susan Vandergriff, A Step Ahead Chattanooga executive director. “When women get accurate information about health resources, including birth control options, that information informs their decisions and plans.”
A Step Ahead Chattanooga began in 2013 with a group of Chattanooga leaders concerned about the rate of unintended pregnancies in the community. The group, led by Rachel Schulson, took action after learning about a successful Memphis program that prevents unintended pregnancy through the use of IUDs and implants. Last week A Step Ahead Chattanooga connected its 3000th client with birth control.
“We are delighted to support A Step Ahead Chattanooga and the critical work they do in the region,” said Jessica Millman.