project leader
Victoria S
505 Foreland Street
(Deutschtown in the North Side of Pittsburgh)
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the project

We are giving parents the tools to build bright, well adjusted kids in our community. 

MAYA Organization offers a series of free pregnancy and parenting classes each year in our North Side offices to over 600 Allegheny County residents. Parents who attend classes earn rewards such as car seats, pack and plays, high chairs, strollers and diapers. We would like to add a new series of classes for parents focused on fostering intelligence and positive mental health. 

Science has shown us much about child development in recent years. We now know that the foundation for sound mental health and intelligence is built early in life. Early experiences, which including relationships with parents, caregivers, relatives, teachers, and peers, help shape the developing brain. Disruptions in this developmental process can damage a child’s capacity for learning and relating to others, causing lifelong implications. Toxic stress is particularly damaging. Toxic stress results from strong, frequent, and/or prolonged biological stress responses to such negative situations such as poverty, threatening neighborhoods, domestic violence, parental substance abuse problems, poor child care conditions, and abuse or neglect. It can severely damage a baby’s developing brain and can impair school readiness, academic achievement, and both physical and mental health in children and, later, adults. Many problems, ranging from the failure to complete high school to incarceration to homelessness, could be dramatically reduced if attention were paid to improving children’s environments, relationships, and experiences early in life.

We plan to write four hour-long classes in partnership with Patrick Webster, the Project Manager of LAUNCH IMH Learning Collaboratives at the Matilda H. Theiss Child Development Center. This new curriculum that will focus on helping parents understand how to encourage their babies’ intelligence and promote mental health. These classes will teach new parents the skills needed to reduce the effects of toxic stress in their new babies. Their children will then be better prepared to be healthy and successful adults.

When the classes are written we will plan to offer them weekly at our North Side and Swissvale offices. Parents who participate will be given incentive points which can be cashed in for baby equipment such as diapers, infant clothing, high chairs, cribs, and car seats.


the steps

October 1 to December 31, 2017

  • MAYA Organization collaborates with LAUNCH IMH to write the four-class Infant Mental Health curriculum.  

January 1 – 31, 2017: 

  • MAYA instructors are trained in the curriculum and begin to intensely promote the program online and in prenatal clinics, social service organizations, and family support centers

February 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018

  • Classes will be offered weekly MAYA Organization to new parents. MAYA will continually conduct outreach and marketing activities to publicize the classes.  The curriculum will be shared with other Project Launch members. Evaluation results will be shared with Project Sprout at the project’s end.

why we're doing it

It takes more than seeking medical care and simply feeding, clothing, and housing a new baby to make them healthy and well adjusted. We now know that new parents can be given the knowledge to help increase a child's intelligence and social and emotional development. 

MAYA Organization's mission is to provide education and promote the healing process in order to enable women and families to break the cycle of generational trauma and foster the optimal physical and mental development of their children. Since 2009, we have worked to support women and families in the Northside and Swissvale communities and in the Allegheny County Jail. Our dedicated team of mental health counselors, doulas, and childbirth instructors provide education and support to new families as well as those seeking personal growth. 

We hope that that teaching parents how to protect their children from the effects of toxic stress and trauma will lead to improved school readiness, academic achievement, and physical and mental health.


Original Budget: 

Staff Member's salary to write curriculum:  $2,800

Classroom Teaching Aids:                            $    200

Printing Costs:                                                  $    300

Class Incentives for Parents who Attend:     $4,500

SUB TOTAL:                                                                 $9,800

Project Subtotal =  $9,800
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $294
Total to raise on ioby = $10,129

Updated budget:

Staff Member's salary to write curriculum:  $1,400

Classroom Teaching Aids:                            $    100

Printing Costs:                                                  $    150

Class Incentives for Parents who Attend:     $2,250

SUB TOTAL:                                                                 $4900

SUBTOTAL = 4,900
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $147

Disbursed Budget:

$900 for instructor fees

$100 for printing

$560 for parent incentives

RAISED = $1,560.00
 less ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
less ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $44.42



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