Mar 7, 2024

BCBSRI supports expanded doula scholarships

PROVIDENCE, RI (March 7, 2024) — Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island  (BCBSRI) is partnering with Doulas of Rhode Island (DoRI) to expand a scholarship program aimed at supporting the doula workforce while enhancing diversity within the state’s doula community.

Financial support from BCBSRI will allow DoRI to increase the number of doula scholarships offered to members of Rhode Island’s BIPOC communities, providing financial assistance for training for both aspiring and current birth workers and bolstering efforts to reduce alarming disparities in maternal health disparities here and across the country. A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and educational support before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth. 

In 2021, Rhode Island enacted legislation requiring that all health plans, including Medicaid and private insurers, provide coverage for doula services Given the growing need for doulas in the state, BCBSRI and DoRI have been collaborating on efforts to support the expansion of Rhode Island’s doula workforce. 

With the additional funding from BCBSRI, DoRI is offering a total of seven scholarships for 2024, the largest number in the organization’s 13-year history. Three $1,000 scholarships are for BIPOC aspiring doulas to help pay for their doula training, one $500 scholarship will be to support current DORI members interested in training as a certified lactation counselor and three $500 scholarships are for current DoRI members to apply toward the cost of additional birthworker training and continuing education of their choice.

“BCBSRI is committed to supporting local solutions to the unacceptable rise in maternal health inequities, with Black women now three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes,” said Carolyn Belisle, managing director of corporate social responsibility at BCBSRI. “Doulas provide invaluable support to birthing people before, during and after childbirth and expanding access to their specialized care in communities of color can contribute to efforts to improve maternal health outcomes. DoRI is an important partner and we’re pleased to help them grow their scholarship program.” 

Applications for 2024 scholarships are available now and must be submitted by April 15. Visit for more information or apply directly at DORI Scholarship Link

“These scholarships provide important financial assistance to equitably support and retain local doulas, who provide support to the families and communities of laboring and postpartum people,” said Emerald Ortiz, DoRI’s current Co-President. “Our scholarship program has been expanding and benefitting practicing and aspiring doulas for the past 6 years and we greatly appreciate BCBSRI stepping up to expand the program this year.” 

DoRI is a professional organization for doulas whose mission is to educate communities about the role of doulas and enhance access to doula services for families in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It also provides professional support, skill sharing, and marketing opportunities for its members. It was founded in 2011 by two local doulas and its membership has since grown to approximately 70 local doulas.