How to Do Outreach to African-American Women

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African-American women are essential messengers within the Black community. Here are a few facts to know:

  • African-American women are more likely than their male or white counterparts to lack access to health coverage. 3
  • In 2010, African-American women had the second highest poverty rate (25.1 percent), compared to 10 percent of their white female counterparts. With the rate for female-headed families being higher at 47.6. 2
  • 19.8 percent of Black women and 15.7 percent of Black men had earned at least a bachelor’s degree while among non-Hispanic Whites, 32 percent of men and 31 percent of white women had earned at least a bachelor’s degree.3
  • According to the 2010 Census Bureau report, the average African-American family median income was $39,988 in comparison to $67,892 for non-Hispanic White families.3
  • For 2011, the unemployment rate for Blacks was twice that for non-Hispanic Whites (15.8 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively). This finding was consistent for both men and women.3
  • African American women 45-74 years of age in 2006 had the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with the same age women of other racial and ethnic populations.NUMBER
  • Among females aged 20-39 years, the prevalence of obesity was largest among African Americans.1
  • Infants of African American women in 2006 had death rates twice as large as infants of White American women.1

Factors contributing to poor health outcomes among African Americans include discrimination, cultural barriers, and lack of access to health care. In an effort to help maximize access to health coverage the following outreach strategies are suggested.


Women as consumers span a broad range in terms of age, marital status, parental status, employment, educational levels, and social and professional engagement. However, two key groups to target when reaching out to African-American women are mother figures and young women.

Mother Figures (Moms, aunts, grandmothers, sisters)

Mothers play a significant role in all aspects of the African-American community— from health to finances. Their role in reaching the African-American male is vital. They are often seen as a caretaker and/or head of household.

  • Caretaker: Mothers often serve as the caretaker, and, in many scenarios, they are the sole decision-maker in the family.
  • Head of household: Mothers often take the lead on finance, health, education, and housing decisions. Generally, the mother also works outside the home.

Where African-American Mothers Are:

  • Grocery Stores: Partnering with local supermarkets can be a great way to reach consumers. You can work with management to decide which days are most effective and where and how to arrange tables. Depending on the community, shopping times may be in the evenings or on weekends, for example. Also, the supermarket may even be able to promote your event by branding it on food receipts, in coupon books and on grocery bags.
  • Civic Organizations: African-American women often belong to civic organizations that have a community service component. These organizations can be sororities such as Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Ghamma Rho’s, Zeta Phi Beta, mom-centered organizations such as Jack-n-Jill, or other civic organizations such as the Links, Inc., Eastern Stars, or National Council of Negro Women. You can approach the organization’s chapter to ensure their members are insured and also to see if they can serve as volunteers for the Get Covered America campaign. (See “Civic Organization” section for more detailed guidance.) 
  • Clinics/Community Health Centers: Mothers are often the caretakers in their family as well as the users of prenatal and childcare services. Partner with local health centers including community clinics, free clinics, and places like Planned Parenthood, WIC, and Head Starts offices that will have direct links to the consumers most likely to be uninsured.
  • Community Events: Offer to participate in events that cater to women and teens like women’s health-specific walks, health fairs, church-sponsored events, and African-American culturally focused events.
  • Faith Congregations: Culturally, many women are connected to faith-based organizations. By utilizing faith-based organizations, many women can be reached and mobilized as messengers and consumers. Furthermore, faith-based organizations have youth, women’s and men’s ministries that reach a broader context of consumers. (See “Health Care in the Pulpit” Program for detailed guidance).
  • Schools: Working through their children’s schools can be another medium to reach mothers. Partnering with organizations that have vetted relationships at your local school districts can facilitate outreach to Parent Teacher Associations, community-based after-school programs, and various parent-run organizations. (See the “Young American Toolkit” for more detailed guidance). 
  • Hair/Nail Salons: It is very common for women to go to a hair and/or nail salon on a weekly basis. Therefore, you should establish a relationship with the staff at local barber shops, beauty salons and beauty supply stores. Partnering with the staff from these places will be a great way to disseminate information and materials to consumers. (See “Small Business Section” for more detailed guidance.) 
  • Radio: Many women will listen to the radio and sometimes listen to a specific programs regularly. Identifying specific programs that women in your community listen to is a first great step. Many of these radio programs are run by a faith or cultural leader who is a strong trusted messenger, such a Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner or Wendy Williams.
  • TV: Even though developing a TV commercial and buying TV spots can be costly, it is worth considering since this strategy will certainly yield great results. There are national and local television outlets to best engage the African-American community.
  • News outlets/Social media: Another strategy to consider is placing an ad in or writing an article, op-ed or letter to the editor for the local African- American newspapers and magazines. Those outlets may have strong audiences on their blogs, and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Young Women

Young women often have broader access to both the older community and younger community. These points of access make young, African-American women key connectors.

  • Consumer: Young women have a large stake in health consumer markets, not only as utilizers of service, but also as future heads of households.
  • Connectors: Young women, simply by their sheer numbers, serve as key influencers for their homes, schools, workplaces and general social networks within their communities.

Where Young Women Are:

  • Colleges/Universities: Work with groups at local community colleges and universities to either table on campus or utilize student organizations as surrogates within their college communities. Also, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Black Student Unions (at non-majority black colleges/universities) are great resources. (See the “Young American Toolkit” for outreach suggestions) 
  • Sororities/Student Organizations: Traditional African-American sororities have a strong commitment to community service. The organizations also often have strong influence on the Black community on their college campus. Approach the chapter on campus to have them consider the Get Covered America campaign as a service project.
  • Campus Administrations: Work with administrators and health care professionals on campus to launch a health-awareness week or health-related activities.
  • Shopping Centers: Malls and shopping centers will be a good opportunity to reach out to young women, not only because they are active consumers, but also because many young women will be employed there.


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCHS FastStats, Health of African American Non-Hispanic Populations.

2National Women’s Law Center: National Snapshot: Poverty Among Women & Families, 201

3U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Research and Policy, National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2010: Chapter 10: priority populations.

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