Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of the Foundation for Black Women's Wellness, speaks during a press conference on women's health initiatives at Monona Terrace in March.

For years, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness has offered programs and services like fitness classes, health education and coaching all over Dane County.

Wednesday, the foundation is announcing plans to open a health and wellness center for black women, centralizing its programming and expanding its services. It's being heralded as the first such center specifically for black women in Dane County. 

“The need for our center is clear, and we’re ready to make it happen with the community’s help,” said Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of the foundation, in a press release. “We’re working against big odds to build a generation of well Black women, and this investment is vital to help us get there.”

The organization is announcing the move at a noon press conference Wednesday at the west side site of the future center, 6601 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite A2. Peyton-Caire chose Wednesday to announce the news because May 22 is the anniversary of her mother’s death. Her mother died in 2006 of congestive heart failure at age 64, motivating Peyton-Caire's work for black women's wellness.

The foundation will need to raise $100,000 over the next month to expand programming and fill the mostly empty space with fitness equipment, computers, office furniture and more. The goal is to open the center by late summer.

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness is a Dane County-based nonprofit aiming to advance the health and well-being of black women and girls. The organization provides a variety of services for over 1,000 women and girls every year, including prevention education, fitness and yoga classes, one-to-one wellness coaching and more.

It also recently led a nine-month community engagement campaign to find solutions to the frequency of African-American babies born at low birth weights, and Peyton-Caire served on Gov. Tony Ever’s Health Policy Advisory Council.

The foundation works to battle the many health disparities facing black women and girls in Dane County and the state, including higher rates of infant mortalitylower life expectencies and breast cancer mortality. The west side center will be located in a high-needs area where "black women's health and birth outcomes face big risks," the project's fundraising site says. 

“We touch so many women’s lives each year, and we intentionally take our presence to where women need us most,” Peyton-Caire said.

The foundation will continue to offer programming across the county through its network of partners, Peyton-Caire said, but the foundation “really needed a space to root what we do.”

“We need a home,” Peyton-Caire said.

The space will not only put the foundation’s current programs under one roof, but will allow it to offer services like preventative health screenings for diabetes and blood pressure. Among other advantages, it will also provide a confidential space for women to receive support services, and it will allow the foundation experiment with innovative ways to use technology to connect and engage women around their health.

“I just think that's a beautiful thing — to be able to centralize and bring more cohesion among all the things that we offer,” Peyton-Caire said.

There are other health services serving black women in Dane County, like the community-based doula organization Harambee Village and the African American Breastfeeding Alliance of Dane County. But Katarina Grande, supervisor in maternal and child health at Public Health Madison & Dane County, believes the foundation's center will offer the most comprehensive health programming explicitly for black women to date.

“We’re very excited about this new center and we’re excited to continue partnering with the foundation,” Grande said. 

The center represents many exciting programming and partnership opportunities, but Peyton-Caire said it will also be a home for the foundation's community of black women.

“The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness is not a program and we’re not an agency, we’re a movement,” Peyton-Caire said. “It’s like a big extended family that keeps on growing, and within that family and within that community, women find strength, they find accountability, they break isolation.”

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