Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc., has always had an altruistic mission and vision – to leverage all gifts, skills, talents, and resources to serve the greater good. Through that lens, Altruism Media, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, was founded. Altruism Media brings program development and implementation into the fold, undergirded by its long history and expertise in health care and social care messaging and advocacy.
The Black-led organization, founded by Grace Advertising CEO Tonia Wright, is committed to designing and delivering programs that center health and racial equity as a lever to intentionally dismantle structures that make access to health care and community support difficult to achieve. The team includes writers, strategists, designers, software developers, and support staff that serve with a heart for service.
Altruism Media’s mission is to empower communities to thrive equitably by equipping them with information and resources that advance whole-person health. Its vision is to create healthier communities sustained by a continuum of whole-person care through strategic partnerships with health care, mental health care, and social care organizations. Its purpose is to develop programs that address fissures in health care equity – often exacerbated by racism and classism – while also serving as a messaging vehicle for other nonprofits.
Though Altruism Media is new, its for-profit counterpart, Grace Advertising, has a long history and reputation of delivering quality, equitable services that have helped nonprofits reach their constituents in compelling ways. Altruism Media is launched from that legacy and will now create its own programs and messaging frameworks in Black, Brown, and rural communities – while also serving as a marketing, advocacy, and outreach partner to other nonprofits.
“After years of serving nonprofits as a for-profit company – with many services delivered noncommissioned or at undermarket rates, it just made sense for us to start our own nonprofit,” Wright said. “We will continue to serve other nonprofits with advocacy and outreach services, but now, we will also develop our own programs that fill gaps and support equity-focused access to health care and social care supports. Altruism Media is simply a natural and sensical next step for us.”
Altruism Media’s team, hardly new to their field of work in marketing and advocacy, stands poised to enact meaningful change from the get-go — and indeed, they already have projects underway.
The MaIH Project, which stands for maternal and infant health, will connect pregnant people with maternal, parental, and infant health care and social care services. Altruism Media has a partnership with Unite Us, a social care technology platform that assesses pregnant people to determine unmet health and social care needs – including maternal mental health. With help from Altruism Media’s community health worker (CHW), these individuals will be screened for eligibility, enrolled in safety net programs, and connected to a health care provider to ensure whole-person care. The CHW will follow these individuals throughout their pregnancy and through postnatal to ensure the pregnant person and their infant’s health care and social care needs are met.
The goal of The MaIH Project is to engage pregnant people with culturally responsive information about the roles doulas and midwives play to increase healthy outcomes during prenatal and postnatal. Additionally, the program will equip pregnant people and their partners with tools to increase maternal health literacy and self-advocacy so they are able to comfortably communicate their needs and desires to health care providers. The program also includes a variety of education and outreach components that include everything from fetal monitoring and risk mitigation by a practice that counts the kicks, to access to canna doulas, breastfeeding, and much more.
As Grace Advertising’s staff writer, Elena Cleaves has consistently covered maternal and infant health, highlighting barriers to and disparities in care that lead to adverse health outcomes. Now, as Altruism Media’s program director and a soon-to-be mother, Cleaves pulls from both her editorial experience and current pregnancy to inform development of The MaIH Project and how it aims to achieve its mission.
“Undergoing my own pregnancy journey while developing The MaIH Project has opened my eyes to resources I wasn’t aware I needed or didn’t know existed,” Cleaves said. “Through creating this program, I’ve learned about the benefits of having a doula to help with pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, and even postpartum depression – things that all used to terrify me. I’ve also noticed the privileges I have as a white mother and how my experience differs from Black and Hispanic mothers and parents who often face discrimination or barriers to support.”
Guided by lived experience and a robust history of advocating for health equity, the Altruism Media team is well-equipped to continue the fight toward improving maternal and infant health outcomes for all families. Though the mission is familiar, the processes are new; creating and operating a nonprofit is no simple feat.
When asked about the challenges for running a for-profit and a nonprofit, Wright doesn’t downplay the obstacles, but focuses on the positives. “It’s going to be a paradigm shift for some nonprofits that have always seen us as a marketing service provider and perhaps not necessarily a peer. However, I believe our entry into the nonprofit sector is advantageous
because we have the luxury of 15 years of [serving] nonprofits. We’ve developed partnerships through the years that continue to inspire collaboration and unity in a way that prioritizes health equity.”
Wright and Cleaves plan to capitalize on preexisting positive relationships with other organizations and strengthen those connections through Altruism Media. “I believe Altruism Media’s heart for service is a precursor to every good thing that will follow,” Wright said. “We intend to build on the legacy we started 15 years ago.”
Altruism Media has offices in both rural Lafayette County and in Kansas City, Missouri.