Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is seeking innovative ways to increase breastfeeding initiation and/or continuation rates and decrease disparities among breastfeeding mothers in the United States through the HHS Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge.

Background/Issue

The HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is charged with providing expert advice and consultation to the Secretary on scientific, legal, ethical, and policy issues, and serving as a coordination point throughout HHS on issues affecting the health of women and girls. OWH establishes short and long-term goals within the Department for research, disease prevention and health promotion, service delivery, and education for public health and health care professionals surrounding women and girls’ health. OWH identifies needs and monitors activities within the Department that contribute to women and girls’ health and through leadership of the Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health. Additionally, OWH is responsible for facilitating the exchange of information through the National Women’s Health Information Center and promoting women and girls’ health programs and policies, all aimed at improving the health of women and girls.

Breastfeeding is good for mothers and babies. Breast milk provides the necessary nutrition for infants, changing over time to meet infants’ changing nutritional needs. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of short- and long-term illnesses and diseases in both mother and baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months with continued breastfeeding with complementary foods for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.” Research also suggests that breastfeeding may reduce a mother’s risk of hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, studies suggest that interventions focusing on the prevention of diabetes and hypertension through education about breastfeeding benefits may have a positive impact on mothers’ cardiovascular outcomes. Despite the many benefits of breastfeeding, racial and ethnic disparities exist among women initiating and continuing breastfeeding.

African American mothers have persistently had the lowest rate of breastfeeding initiation and duration. The 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding noted that breastfeeding rates for black infants are lower than for white infants at all measurement periods after controlling for family income and education level.

Purpose

OWH is creating a national competition to identify effective, pre-existing programs that increase breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates and decrease disparities among breastfeeding mothers in the United States. The goal of this innovative competition is to demonstrate sustainability and the ability to replicate and/or expand a program that has proven outcomes to improve breastfeeding rates and reduce disparities.

Subject and Scope of Prize Competition

The program must demonstrate evidence-based interventions to target gaps in breastfeeding education, instruction, and/or support for breastfeeding mothers in the United States. The program will be shared with the general public.

The competition has three phases. All eligible submissions will be evaluated, and separate prizes may be awarded for each of the three phases.

Deadlines

Phase 1: Identification of successful programs

  • Open September 30, 2020 through December 9, 2020.
  • Webinar: October 21, 2020, 3:00-4:00 pm EST.
  • Webinar: October 30, 2020, 2:00-3:00 pm ET.
  • Webinar: November 6, 2020, 3:00-4:00 pm ET.

    Phase 1 submissions are due by December 9, 2020, 11:59 pm EST.

  • Judging for Phase 1 will occur from December 10, 2020 through December 17, 2020.
  • Finalists that move into Phase 2 will be awarded by December 18, 2020.

Phase 2: Awarding plans for sustainability and replication and/or expansion

  • Competition occurs September 29, 2021 through October 30, 2021.
  • Phase 2 submissions are due by October 30, 2021, 11:59 pm EST.
  • Judging for Phase 2 will occur from October 31, 2021 through November 20, 2021.
  • Finalists that move into Phase 3 will be awarded by November 21, 2021.

Phase 3: Awarding the programs that have successfully replicated and/or expanded

  • Competition occurs September 29, 2022 through October 30, 2022.
  • Phase 3 submissions are due by October 30, 2022, 11:59 pm EST.
  • Judging for Phase 3 will occur from October 31, 2022 through November 20, 2022.
  • Finalists will be awarded by November 21, 2022.

Prizes

Total Prize Awards Available

Total Awards: $800,000 in FY20 funds.

Prize Breakdown

Phase 1 FY20 (Identification of successful programs): Up to 15 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $15,000.

Phase 2 FY21 (Awarding plans for sustainability and replication and/or expansion): The participants selected to receive a prize for Phase 1 may compete for consideration to receive a prize in Phase 2. Up to 10 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $30,000.

Phase 3 FY22 (Awarding programs that have successfully replicated and/or expanded): The participants selected to receive a prize in Phase 2 may compete for consideration to receive a prize in Phase 3. Up to 5 submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $55,000.

All winners will be notified via email.

Awardees will be expected to present their program for Office on Women’s Health staff and members of the public at the end of each award phase. This presentation may be virtual or in-person and prize funds are expected to be used to facilitate this presentation.

How to Submit a Proposal

To view the Challenge submission requirements, judging criteria, competition rules, and to submit a proposal, visit https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/reducing-disparities-breastfeeding-innovation-challenge/

Questions?

If you have questions or want to learn more, please email BreastfeedingChallenge@hhs.gov.