For Immediate Release:
August 6, 2019
Contact: Kimberly Seals Allers | KSealsAllers@Gmail.com | 347.671.7779
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 8:30am 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
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: www.BlackMothersBreastfeeding.org. Family
Innovation Team members are available for interview and photo opportunities.
(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: www.BlackMothersBreastfeeding.org
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 peerreviewed
research papers. Learn more at: www.makethebreastpumpnotsuck.com
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: www.HarambeeCare.org
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: BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org