Community Innovation Program


Leading up to the 2018 Hackathon at the MIT Media Lab, we are supporting four Community Innovation teams from Boston, Detroit, New Mexico and Tupelo. Each team, consisting of talented innovators and passionate advocates for low-income families in their communities, will work to articulate problems in their communities and to kickstart local innovations.

The Community Innovation Program will lend financial support to each team, and host monthly meetings online for teams to share lessons, challenges, and successes from their work. In addition, a supportive training program will equip each team member with the principles and practices of Human-Centered Design—a thoughtful approach to innovative problem solving. The teams will utilize design & innovation resources from LUMA Institute.

Boston Circle Work II.jpg

Boston, Massachusetts

Under the leadership of Nashira Baril, the Boston team is working to open a free-standing birth clinic in Dorchester, Massachusetts, called the Neighborhood Birth Center. The clinic will provide comprehensive, evidence-based care during pregnancy, physiologic birth, and the postpartum period with a focus on liberation and justice, and providing a space for inter-generational healing and transformation. In the accelerator, the team is leveraging technical assistance to flesh out a sustainable business plan, and determine strategic partnerships. They are bringing a media-based question to the hackathon to use emerging technologies in support of their communications plans.

Team members include (left to right): Nashira Baril, Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal, Chris Miller, Sanam Roder-Dewan, and Erline Achille.

You can learn more about Harambee Care through their  Facebook ,  Twitter , and  Instagram .

You can learn more about Harambee Care through their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Detroit, Michigan

Our Detroit partner is Harambee Care who provides high quality in-home maternal and infant care coordination for Medicaid eligible families. The team, led by Executive Director Anjanette Davenport Hatter is exploring the the development of a self-advocacy breastfeeding tool to increase lactation support and education in Detroit. The tool addresses lactation acuity—a term that relates to providing the specificity and timeliness of lactation support based on individualized patient needs and health severity. The team emphasizes a "train-the-trainer" model to educate staff on optimal ways for moms to self-advocate with healthcare providers.

Team members include (left to right): Anjanette Davenport Hatter, Sekeita Lewis Johnson, Kristie King, and Jasmine Trice.

You can learn more about Indigenous Women Rising on  Facebook ,  Twitter , or  Instagram

You can learn more about Indigenous Women Rising on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rachael Lorenzo, Founder of Indigenous Women Rising, believes that Indigenous people’s traditional clothing can be adapted for breastfeeding and pumping. Rachael and other indigenous parents have struggled with breastfeeding while trying to maintain a close relationship with the traditions and ceremonies in their communities. Rachael’s team is sourcing a Pueblo and an Apache seamstress to develop breastfeeding-friendly traditional clothing that will adapt breastfeeding needs of parents and babies while remaining true to the traditional styles and design. The team will create four to six prototypes of the traditional outfits.

Team members include (left to right): Monica Esparza, Rachael Lorenzo,  Malia Luarkie, and Marya Errin Jones.

Learn more about the  Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project   and follow them on  Twitter  and  Facebook .

Learn more about the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project  and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Tupelo, Mississippi

The Mississippi team, spearheaded by Toni Hill of the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project is focusing on finding ways to identify women in the community, train them with evidenced-based information, and sustain a model of employing them as community health workers focusing majorly on birth and breastfeeding equity. After many years of serving this community, it is clear that there is a specific need for culturally appropriate care.  

The Community Innovation Program will be used to outline the struggles that are present for community health worker programming. The success of the programming will also be reliant on the degree to which the community has space to provide input. 

Team members include (left to right): Toni Hill, Teffanie Green, Natasha Enos, and Anita Crawford.

If you'd like to connect with any of the teams or join their team for the hackathon, please email Becky Michelson at