Online Program

Strategic mission investment at the March of Dimes: Focusing resources to achieve impact

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Kelly Ernst, MPH, MCH Impact, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Norm Hess, MSA, Chapter Program Support, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Scott Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chapter Program Support, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Background & Significance:

Strategic Mission Investment (SMI) is the March of Dimes focused, multi-year approach to program planning and implementation that fully utilizes each of the March of Dimes 48 national chapters’ mission resources to receive maximum return on investment. The SMI approach provides chapters with greater flexibility in the planning and allocation of all mission resources, enabling chapters to achieve the impact, outcomes, and visibility for chapter projects that are both funded and directly implemented.


The SMI pilot process (2006-2009) showed that allowing chapters more flexibility in allocation of mission resources can support greater expectations for outcomes and visibility than can be accomplished through traditional grant giving.  Additional chapters that met certain criteria were subsequently added to the process until SMI was ultimately rolled out nationally in late 2013.


SMI moves chapters to become actively engaged in driving results through focused collaboration with maternal and child health partners.  SMI enhances visibility of the March of Dimes mission and recognition as a leader in maternal and child health, strengthens high-level volunteer engagement, and creates greater opportunities for communities to seek external program grants to support activities directed and implemented by chapters.


SMI requires a different approach to the collection of process and outcome data from chapters.  The newly-redesigned Electronic Program Information Center and the development of the Centralized Pregnancy Outcomes Database provide information needed to effectively manage the process and make strategic mission decisions at the chapter, region, and national levels.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe how a focused, multi-year approach to strategic planning and grants management can achieve maximum return on investment. Identify practical steps to create the cultural change necessary to stop “being all things to all people.” Discuss how increased focus combined with flexibility in utilization of all mission resources allowed for better investment in local initiatives and with the highest potential for impact.

Keyword(s): Maternal and Child Health, Birth Outcomes

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As Director of Chapter Programs at the March of Dimes National Office, I am responsible for developing guidance for chapters related to strategic mission investments, community grant funding, program evaluation, and program partnerships and collaboration and thus am quaified to present on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.