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Join us October 16-18, 2020 for the virtual event!

Apply by 11:59 PM ET on October 13th, 2020 to participate in the hackathon!

MIT Hacking Racism and Black Tech Matters present a virtual hackathon to address health disparities

THIS WEEKEND: MIT Hacking Racism in Healthcare Challenge




MIT Hacking Racism in Healthcare Challenge, presented in collaboration with Black Tech Matters, seeks to tackle systemic racism that leads to disparities in healthcare.


Cambridge, MA – The MIT Hacking Racism in Healthcare Challenge, presented in collaboration with Black Tech Matters, looks to identify and tackle the systemic health inequities that lead to worse health outcomes for members of underrepresented and vulnerable racial groups. Taking place virtually the weekend of October 16 – 18, the hackathon’s agenda and areas of focus have been informed by a hackathon listening summit the group hosted last month with healthcare leaders, community advocates and other stakeholders in recent weeks.


“Health hackathons are being used by an increasingly wide range of organizations to solve tough and diverse healthcare problems and harness future business opportunities as has been exemplified by the prior success of MIT Hacking Medicine and the MIT COVID-19 Challenge. MIT’s hackathon sponsors include Black Tech Matters, United Healthcare, Anthem, and a number of HBCUs,” notes Freddy Nguyen, co-director of the MIT Hacking Racism in Healthcare Challenge and research fellow at the MIT Innovation Initiative.


The virtual hackathon offers the opportunity for collaboration and creation of viable solutions that can evolve into new start-up organizations that can transform the healthcare industry. Participants from any professional or racial background, with a passion for healthcare equity and social justice are welcomed to apply. 


During the hackathon, participants will work virtually in teams to choose a specific problem within their track and develop a potential solution to this problem. They can use any tool at their disposal, as well as seek expert guidance from mentors on hand as they develop their solution. At the end of the hackathon, solutions will be pitched to a panel of judges who will give feedback. Teams emerging from the hackathon will have a chance to receive continuing mentorship and access to resources in order to realize their solution and create real-world impact.


Preparing by listening


To prepare for this hackathon, a listening summit brought together over 30 subject matter experts from diverse backgrounds, from fintech and healthcare entrepreneurs to thought leaders in data science and the arts. The day ended with a Panel and Town Hall: How to Say Goodbye to Racism in Public Health, moderated by For(bes) the Culture lead Rashaad Lambert, CNN correspondent April Ryan, and Black Tech Matters founder Angel Rich.


Bias in data used to inform healthcare policy; maternal health; healthcare innovation in the Black community; and pathways to reduce disparate outcomes in access to and provision of care were among the topics explored at the listening summit that will resurface at the hackathon.  


“The goal of our pre-hackathon listening summit was to begin the conversation around these challenging and complex issues, to hear from our stakeholders and collaborators, and to engage with potential participants and mentors,” adds Nguyen. “By creating this safe space to have an open conversation and at the same time dig deeper to learn about the nuances and intricacies of these issues, we hope to be able to create a community of informed individuals and stakeholders ready to tackle these issues during the upcoming hackathon weekend.” 


Presenting the conference with MIT Hacking Racism, Black Tech Matters, led by Rich and Yusuf Henriques, aims to expand inclusion in STEM entrepreneurship, education, and employment through tech equity, community activism, and policy. Rich notes that Black Tech Matters counts the National Society of Black Engineers and the National African American Association of Honors Program, representing over 25 HBCUs, as cultural partners for the movement, along with corporate support from JP Morgan Chase Advancing Black Pathways and United Healthcare, among others. 


“We are especially thankful to the DC Mayor’s Office for embracing this initiative across the city and to the MIT community for being bold enough to tackle this public health crisis while being sensitive enough to involve the right cultural stakeholders,” says Rich, founder of Black Tech Matters. 


To date, members of the MIT community engaged in this challenge include volunteers from MIT Hacking Medicine, the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, MIT Innovation Initiative, Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center at MIT, the Institute Community & Equity Office, and the MIT Black Business Students Association.






Freddy Nguyen, MD, PhD

Research Fellow, MIT Innovation Initiative



Emre Ergecen

Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT



Greg Wymer

Marketing & Communications Manager

Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship / MIT delta v



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