500 boobcupcakes, 40+ teams, 26 breastfeeding innovation fellows, 12 winners, 5 community innovation teams, and endless celebrating how #breastmilkismagic. The 2018 MIT Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon and Paid Family Leave Policy Summit convened 250+ collaborators from diverse backgrounds to create better products, programs, policies, and systems to support breastfeeding and pumping with a focus on equity. The dynamic event featured a multimedia art exhibit, a Baby Village to support young children at the event, and an Innovator’s Gallery with start-ups and big businesses. Watch the documentary by Elizabeth Gray Bayne below to learn more about our values, approach, and the community. Share the video with #breastfeedinginnovation.

Learn more about the Art Gallery, Innovator’s Gallery, and Hackathon Prizes & Judging.

What happened at the Hackathon?


Friday, April 27th, 6PM-9PM:

6PM - 6:30PM:  Music and Food

6:30 PM - 7:00PM: Icebreakers and Intros

7PM - 7:15PM: Welcome and the Origin Story 

7:15PM - 7:45PM: The Big Picture with Kimberly Seals Allers: Breastfeeding, Equity, Policy, Innovation

7:45PM - 8:45PM: A launch of the book, "Speaking our Truths: 27 Stories of What it's Really Like to Breastfeed and Pump in the United States" with parents from across the country

Saturday, April 28th

8AM - 9AM: Registration & Breakfast

9AM - 9:15AM: Welcome from Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab

9:15AM - 9:45AM: Keynote – Why We Are Here
By: Catherine D'Ignazio, Binta Beard, Becky Michelson, Alexis Hope, Kate Krontiris, and Jenn Roberts

9:45AM - 11AM: Equity & Innovation Workshop

11AM- 12:30PM:  Hackathon Orientation, Idea Sharing, and Team Formation

Hear from Alexis about the structure of the weekend. Share your ideas for the future of breastfeeding with the rest of the participants! After a round of 60-second pitches, join or form a team.


12:30PM - 1:45PM: Lunch. Check out the Innovators Gallery, Art Exhibition, Zine Library, and Baby Village

1:15PM - 1:45PM: Lamia’s Lactation Lottery in the 3rd Floor Innovators Gallery. Bring your ticket from registration to see if you won a prize!

(Optional) 2PM - 3PM: Wikipedia Editing Training by Phoebe Ayers, Hackathon Room

1:45PM - 5:30PM: Time to hack! Spend some time exploring the research book with your teammates. Check out the materials table, 3D printers, sewing station, and more to get some ideas!

6PM - 6:30PM: Closing Circle: Group up with your fellow hackers to reflect on the day and tell us your plans for tomorrow!

6:30PM: Dinner

(Optional) 7PM - 8PM: Zero Weeks Documentary Screen and Panel, the Policy Room

Come watch an insightful documentary that weaves together stories from policy makers, economists, researchers, and activists to lay out compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. The film’s award-winning director Ky Dickens will facilitate dialogue before and after film, along with Nicole Rodriguez from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and Adrianna Logalbo from 1000 Days.  

(Optional) 7PM: Mocktails in the Pumpspotting RV

Sunday, April 29th

8AM - 9AM: Breakfast

9AM - 12PM: Hacking

(Optional) 10:30AM - 11:30AM: Wikipedia Editing Training by Phoebe Ayers, 6th Floor Lecture Hall

12:15PM - 12:30PM: “Innovation Show-and-Tell” Announcement

(Optional) 12:30PM - 1:00PM: Book Signing: The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding by Kimberly Seals Allers

12:30PM - 1:45PM: Lunch. Check out the Innovators Gallery, Art Exhibition, Zine Library, and Baby Village.

(Optional) 1PM: Artist Talks: Lakisha Cohill and Aimee Gillmore, 6th Floor Lecture Hall

1:45PM - 2:30PM: Prepare for “Innovation Show-and-Tell”

2:30PM - 4PM: “Innovation Show-and-Tell” & Judging!

4PM - 5PM: Awards Ceremony and Community Commitments


What happened at the Policy Summit?

The Make Family Leave Not Suck Policy Summit convened 60-75 advocates, thought leaders, academics, community organizers, the private sector, and others at MIT in April 2018 to engage in dynamic and collaborative discussions with the shared goal of bolstering access to equitable paid family leave. We are at a potentially transformative time as more states and workplaces are considering paid leave policies. Through dynamic panel discussions, personal narratives from mothers and parents, networking, and collaborative breakout sessions, the Policy Summit aims to center equity in paid leave, elevate traditionally marginalized voices, and create a forum that nurtures enhanced coordination and communication to shape a future where all families can access equitable paid leave.

Please note that this is an invite-only event at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. This summit is co-located with the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon.

Friday, April 27th, 6PM-9PM:

6PM - 6:30PM: Snacks and drinks. Explore the art gallery.

 6:30PM - 7PM: Icebreakers & Introductions

7PM - 7:15PM: Welcome & Breast Pump Hackathon Origin Story

7:15PM - 7:45PM: The Big Picture with Kimberly Seals Allers: Breastfeeding, Equity, Policy, Innovation

7:45PM-8:45PM: Themes and Stories from New Parents Around the Country

Saturday, April 28th

8AM - 9AM: Registration & Breakfast

9AM - 9:15AM Welcome from Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab

9:15AM - 9:45AM: Leadership Team Keynote

9:50AM - 10AM: Policy Summit Welcome, AJ Jones, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

10-11:10AM: Equity & Innovation Workshop

  • Created by Jenn Roberts, Founder CEO, Versed Education Group, LLC Facilitated by Binta Beard, Equinox Strategies, & Becky Michelson, Emerson College

11:10AM - 11:30AM: Networking/Coffee Break

11:30AM - 12:45PM: Panel - Paid Family Leave in the US: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going

Overview on paid family leave policy and practices in the United States. Summit attendees have varied expertise and experiences with paid family leave at different levels of government and in the private sector. This panel aims to describe the landscape of where paid leave is in the United States, what’s on the horizon, and the importance of centering equity in paid family leave.  



12:30PM - 2:45PM: Lunch & Explore Innovation Gallery & Art Exhibition

1:15pm: Lamia's Lactation Lottery (3rd Floor Atrium in the Innovator's Gallery)

2:45-3pm: Storytelling Interlude - Alida García

3PM - 4:15PM: Creating Equitable Workplace Paid Family Leave Policies

This panel offers varied perspectives on expanding access to paid family leave in the workplace. Panelists will share insights on challenges, solutions, approaches to advocacy and strategies for building more equitable workplace policies.  



4:15PM - 4:45PM: Coffee Break & Check Out Innovation Gallery & Art Exhibition

4:45PM - 6:30PM: Panel - Spotlight on State and Local Paid Leave Legislation, Advocacy, and Lessons for the Future

As more states create and expand paid leave policies, insights can be gained from the lessons and challenges encountered in states at different points in the process of considering and enacting paid leave policies. Panelists will share findings from some of the first states to enact paid family leave, states that may be on the cusp of new laws, and energized leaders of advocacy and coalition building in states with legislatures not yet ready for paid leave policies.     

Moderator/Opening Remarks

  • Gayle Goldin, Rhode Island State Senator and FMLI Campaign Advisor at Family Values @ Work


6:30PM - 8PM: Dinner 

7PM - 8PM: Screening Zero Weeks by Ky Dickens

Invitation to watch insightful documentary that weaves together stories from policy makers, economists, researchers, and activists to lay out compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. The film’s award-winning director Ky Dickens will facilitate dialogue before and after film, along with Nicole Rodriguez, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, and Adrianna Logalbo, 1000 Days.  

Sunday, April 29th

8AM- 9AM: Breakfast

9AM - 9:15AM: Storytelling Interlude - Clarissa Doutherd, Parents Voices Oakland

9:15AM - 10:30AM: Dreaming the Future of Paid Family and Medical Leave

What does success look like for paid leave in five years? In this breakout session, small groups work with design thinking facilitators to outline a 3-5 year vision for paid leave policies that center equity and health. Group visions may include macro goals such as how many states enact paid leave policies by 2023, as well as process and implementation goals around coordinated advocacy, messaging, access, and technology. Groups will report back their vision for future success, which will anchor conversations for the next activity.

10:30AM-11AM: Networking/Coffee Break

11AM-12:30PM: Continued Dreaming the Future Facilitated Breakout Conversations

Interactive design thinking challenge during which small groups revisit the 3-5 year vision crafted in the last session and backcast to strategially describe actions and processes related to building political will, advocacy, digital organizing, commitment to equity, implementation, and access that are needed to achieve the 3-5 year objective(s). Groups will shareback strategies and recommendations.

12:30PM - 1:30PM: Lunch and Explore Innovation Gallery & Art Exhibition

1:30PM - 2:30PM:  Unconferenced Breakout Groups (1 minute pitches)

Policy summit participants take the reins and generate dynamic breakout session topics based on their needs and interests. Individuals will have 30 seconds -1 minute to share topic areas.  Participants can use the time to gather input on works-in-progress, propose discussion topics, strategize for campaigns and more.

2:30PM - 3PM: Our Next Steps. I Will, We Should, Don't Forget

3:00PM - 4PM: Coffee & Snacks, Hackathon Demos & Judging!

4PM - 5PM: Awards Ceremony and Collaborative Visioning Session for the Future of Breastfeeding Innovation


How is this hackathon different than the first?

The Future of Breastfeeding means that we innovate systems, services and care in addition to breast pumps and products. The Future of Breastfeeding means that we center equity in the innovation process.

At the first hackathon in 2014, we primarily focused on the breast pump. We are proud to say that a LOT of innovation has happened in the breast pump and lactation space since then. New pumps by Medela, Willow, Lansinoh and Spectra have come to market. New services like Pacify and Ellie are filling in systemic gaps in lactation support in the US. 

But these new products and services are coming in at a high price point and aren't fully covered by insurance. Breastfeeding isn't free, it isn't easy, and it's only even remotely thinkable as a choice when you have the time to be with your baby and establish your milk supply. Yet only 14% of parents in the US have access to paid leave and 25% of women return to work 10 days after giving birth. These parents could have the best, smartest, quietest breast pumps in the world and it wouldn't solve the problem that they have to choose between nursing their babies and paying their rent. That is a choice between your baby's health and your family's home, and it's not fair.

So this time around we are addressing innovation systems, services and care in addition to breast pumps and products. We are hosting the Make Family Leave Not Suck Policy Summit, supporting examples of wide-ranging community-centered innovation to the hackathon, and centering the voices of women of color, low-income workers, and LGBTQ+ parents who have stories of breastfeeding triumphs despite structural racism, classism, patriarchy and other systems of oppression. 

What will teams work on?

At the hackathon, teams will definitely work on improving breast pumps. But they will also work on other kinds of breastfeeding-supportive technologies like apps to connect parents to real-time lactation lactation consultants and data visualizations of the places most in need of breastfeeding support. Teams might also work on lactation-friendly spaces, handy accessories, and functional as well as stylish nursing clothing. And not everything has to involve tech or products - teams can also work on designing programs and services. There is a lot to do to support mamas and parents and babies!

What about my baby or toddler? What about nursing and pumping?

Babies and toddlers are welcome at the event! If your application is successful, then we welcome you to bring your small kiddos aged 3 and under. While liability costs prohibit us from offering daycare on-site, we extend the invitation to all accepted participants to bring a partner, friend or caregiver to the event to help watch your baby while you participate. We also plan to have a “Baby Village” lounge with plenty of toys, snacks and baby wipes so that babies and parents are happy.  Breastfeeding and/or pumping is welcome throughout the space; private spaces will also be available for these activities, for participants’ comfort.

How can I participate?

Participation is by application and applications closed on March 1st. We will notify applicants whether we are able to accept them by March 25th. 

How can my organization or company participate?

Please get in touch if you are interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities.


Outreach Partners