Detroit’s First Birth and Breastfeeding “Hackathon” Brings Innovators, Tech Experts, Community Members Together to Tackle State’s Maternal and Infant Health Crisis

Nationally Recognized MIT Media Lab Model Now Replicated With Community &                                                           Health Equity Focus

Detroit, Michigan— Innovators, designers, community members, birth advocates, and leading companies will convene in Detroit on August 24 and 25th for the city’s first-ever birth and breastfeeding hackathon, designed to bring creativity and innovation to the maternal health space. The two days of events, activities and team designing, which will conclude with a judging panel for the winning ideas, is a joint project of Detroit-based Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), Black Breastfeeding Week, Harambee Care and the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck (MtBPNS) team, who led two successful breastfeeding-related hackathons at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab.

“After years of collaborative work to improve birth outcomes in Detroit, the community is ripe and ready to create the radical innovations in maternal and infant health that mothers, fathers, and babies deserve,” says Kiddada Green, founder and executive director of BMBFA, which also serves as the anchor organization for the Black Breastfeeding Caucus,“We are excited about community-led transformation.”

The event kicks off on August 24th at 8:30 am at WeWork Detroit, located at 19 Clifford St., Detroit, MI, 48226.

In the U.S, roughly 6 out of every 1,000 babies die before their first birthday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Detroit, that number has been closer to 14 in recent years. Similarly, black breastfeeding rates lag national averages, with only 30% of black infants in Michigan being exclusively breastfed through three months, compared to 47% nationally.

“Our experience in the community and years of data tell us that birth and breastfeeding are in deep need of co-designed, community-led solutions and the application of tech models to generate new ideas to address lingering racial disparities,” notes Green. “We cannot wait any longer,” she added.

The hackathon will also feature three Family Innovation Teams from Detroit, led by Harambee Care executive director, Anjanette Davenport Hatter. The FIT’s are comprised of local community members affiliated with organizations such as Brilliant Detroit and Focus: HOPE, and are bringing problems to be “hacked” and creative solutions to further develop at the event.

“We believe in the power of creating supportive and joyful spaces for communities to come together, innovate and “learn through making” to create equitable futures,”

says Jenn Roberts from the MtBPNS team, whose previous hackathons in 2014 and 2018 received international media attention and led to the launch of new businesses and products.

The hackathon coincides with the 7th annual Black Breastfeeding Week international celebration, which recently received an official proclamation by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This year’s theme is The World Is Yours: Imagine, Innovate & Liberate! The Detroit Birth and Breastfeeding Hackathon is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Get registration info, agenda and more at: Family Innovation Team members are available for interview and photo opportunities.

About BMBFA:

(BMBFA) BMBFA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 2007 whose mission is to reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding support for black families. A nationally recognized leader is the field, its signature work, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club (BMBFC) is nationally replicated and has run without interruption for over 10 years. BMBFA is also creator of the Black Infant Remembrance Memorial. Learn more at:

About Make the Breast Pump Not Suck:

Make the Breast Pump Not Suck (MtBPNS) catalyzes equity-centered innovation in postpartum healthcare. The project began with a 2014 hackathon, where 150 designers, developers and parents converged to create better breastpumps, nursing environments, and support systems for breastfeeding moms. The 2018 hackathon and policy summit expanded the scope by calling on cultural and equitable systemic change. MtBPNS also compiled nationwide research, produced an online documentary and wrote two peer-reviewed research papers. Learn more at:

About Harambee Care:

Harambee Care’s mission is to reduce the infant mortality and morbidity rate in children living in the Metro Detroit area by providing high quality, evidence-based interventions and services to Medicaid eligible mothers and their infants during the prenatal period and through the first year of life. The goal of Harambee Care is to support Medicaid beneficiaries in promoting healthy pregnancies, positive birth outcomes and infant health. Learn more at:

About Black Breastfeeding Week:

Now in its seventh year, Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31) is an annual international awareness celebration and narrative shifting initiative for black families. BBW has registered more than 300 community events, trends annually on social media with more than 1M impressions and has been featured on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, and in Ebony Magazine and The Huffington Post, among others. Learn more at:

Posted August 16, 2019 in: 2019 by Kimberly Seals Allers

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