Amy Ellen Polk Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was developed in memory of Amy Ellen Polk, a devoted wife, dedicated mother of two, talented transportation engineer, and passionate and outspoken advocate for a Takoma Park, Maryland-based birthing center.

The annual scholarship is awarded in the form of a tuition grant to attend a How to Start a Birth Center Workshop.  An additional $500 is awarded for travel expenses if the recipient is attending an in-person workshop. The workshop is offered in two formats: a two-day, hands-on workshop in a major US city; or as an online course that you can complete at your own pace, in your own home.  Learn more about the AABC How to Start a Birth Center Workshops, including 2018 dates and locations at

About Amy


Amy was a compassionate and intensely motivated woman who pursued her goals with confidence.  "She was very high-energy; when she knew what she wanted, she just went and did it; ... when she set her mind to something, it was just going to happen," says her widower, John Robinette, adding that his wife's enthusiasm for a birthing center came from her experiences with a similar center in Bethesda, Maryland that has since closed.

"We had two fantastic birth experiences at the Maternity Center in Bethesda, and then it shut down," he said. "To have that option go away didn't seem right, so she set out to fix that problem. ... In some ways, it feels like Amy died in childbirth with this infant child in [the form of] the birth center."

Both of Robinette's and Polk's two sons, Adam and Brian were born at the Bethesda maternity center before it closed in 2007.

Amy envisioned a center that would provide individualized care in a home-like setting to women throughout the lifespan, from onset of menstruation, through the childbearing years, to menopause and beyond. She sought to create a center that would monitor the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the woman throughout the childbearing cycle; provide individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support; and minimize technological interventions.  This center would do nothing short of improving her community.

The organization she founded, Seasons of Life Women’s Health and Birth Center, will hopefully become a reality in the not too distant future at the campus of a Takoma Park hospital, when they relocate to a new location.  It is the hope of her friends, family and colleagues at Seasons of Life that this scholarship will empower other like-minded individuals to start birth centers in their own hometowns as well.

Scholarship Criteria

To be eligible for the scholarship you must be actively working on the development of a freestanding birth center in your community and demonstrate financial need. Candidates from Maryland, DC or Virginia will receive preferred consideration. Applicants cannot have previously attended the How to Start a Birth Center Workshop or purchased the online workshop in the last three years.

Individuals wishing to apply for consideration may complete an online application form addressing eligibility and responding to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to open a birth center?

  • What is your experience with birth centers?

  • How far are you in the development process?

  • What resources have you brought together towards your goal of establishing a birth center?

  • How will the AABC How to Start a Birth Center workshop be of benefit to you?


2019 Application Period

The 2019 Application Period will run from January 14th, 2019 to February 24th, 2019.

Questions? Contact Linda Baysore: email or call 215-234-8068

What makes a strong application?

Each year, the AABC Foundation awards multiple Amy Polk Memorial Scholarships, but we always receive more applicants than we have scholarships.  If you want your application to stand out, follow our tips below.

  • The open-ended questions on the application have a maximum word limit of 150 words.  We won't be impressed by an answer that is only 15 words long!  Your computer's word processor will typically have a Word Count button to make sure you don't exceed or fall far short of the word limit.

  • Start working on your answers a day or two in advance (either in a word processor or old-fashioned pen and paper) so that you can sleep on it, mull over the question, and compose your best response, along with editing and proofreading, before you submit your final application.

  • Lastly, the more you can comfortably share with us, the more informed we will be in deciding which applications are the most compelling.  For example, if you're an entrepreneur, explain why you’re seeking financial support at this time.  If you're a student midwife, let us know how getting the Amy Polk Scholarship and attending a workshop fits into your 5-year, 10-year, or whatever-year plan to open a birth center.  The more details the better!

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