COVID-19 Social Impact Solutions for Milwaukee

COVID-19 has taken us by storm. Our first article covering COVID -19 was posted on March 22nd. On that day Wisconsin had reached ~381 confirmed cases and 4 deaths. Today there are 3,555 confirmed cases and 170 confirmed deaths.. Of these numbers Milwaukee County has 2,040 cases and 114 deaths. That’s ~57% of the Wisconsin’s cases and 67% of total deaths in Wisconsin. . 

When you take a closer look at Milwaukee County  where the population is 38% Black, you’ll find that the percentage of the counties COVID-19 deaths are 53% Black . Black people are being disproportionately impacted by this virus. Why?

Reggie Jackson, a well respected community advocate and scholar recently, addressed this question in a published article in Independent Milwaukee.  

It is a well known fact that there are significant disparities between the Black and White population in Milwaukee. Scholars have deemed racism to be one of the significant causes. In a recent article Reggie shared that research studies of Dr. David Williams, an expert on public health, show that “Increasing evidence indicates that racial discrimination is an emerging risk factor for disease and a contributor to racial disparities in healthcare”

Milwaukee has been labeled systemically dangerous for Black people. In 2019 County Executive Chris Abele declared racism as a public health crisis. Governor Tony Evers has been quoted saying that the impact the virus is having on Milwaukee County is a crisis within a crisis. 

As COVID-19 continues to take a toll on Milwaukee and disproportionately affects people of color we need to answer the following questions:

  • What is the government communication strategy to reach its most vulnerable communities?
  • How are resources being equitably allocated to effectively address this crisis?
  • How are COVID-19 tests made accessible to vulnerable populations in Milwaukee?
  • How do we hold each other accountable to keeping each other safe as a community?

Suggestions on How to Flatten the Curve

  • We need community members (residents of Milwaukee) to be an active part of the decision making process alongside government officials
  • Effective communication strategy to bring awareness to the importance of staying at home.
  • Create and effective logistics plan for retail shopping to minimize COVID-19 exposure. 
  • Leverage technology to identify vulnerable communities.
  • A close tracking of the health of those who were forced to risked their health to exercise their right to vote in the April 7th election.

Current Technology Solutions Addressing COVID-19 in Milwaukee:

Milky Way Tech Hub COVID-19 Chatbot

The Milky Way Tech Hub is working hard to address the health disparities in vulnerable communities as a result of COVID-19. The organization has created a chatbot accessible from facebook to bring more awareness to resources around COVID-19 and to address the recent health risks of April 7th election.

Here’s How You Can Help:

  • Team is in need of people to help get the word out about the chatbot
  • Team is looking for more resources to be added to the chatbot workflow

Code for Milwaukee

Code for Milwaukee has identified 5 major projects that will help the citizens of the greater Milwaukee area to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented here are those 5 major projects, plus suggestions on how you can help.

Health Platform

  • The Milwaukee Department of Health is looking to create a responsive web communication platform and notification system to help provide information to Milwaukeeans about health alerts and news.
  • The goal of Health Platform is to allow individuals to quickly read notifications from DoH from their email, or SMS device. This platform would be utilized to help distribute information to citizens in Milwaukee.

Here’s How You Can Help: 

  • This team is looking for developers who can help set up an AWS environment to install a headless wordpress install and integrate it with AWS sns for message distribution. They may also need content creators and designers to help refactor information to best suit user needs.


There is a growing need to  push stories to help ensure individuals understand the gravity of the COVID-19 and those impacted by it. It’s also extremely important to share inspiring stories about what people are doing/building out to help one another.  

Storytelling is a powerful tool when you need to create impact. By connecting the audience with relatable stories we can bridge gaps and understanding to help fight against COVID-19. 

Here’s How You Can Help: 

  • This team is in need of creatives and experts in video and storytelling to help us get the word out on COVID. From washing hands to celebrating the local heros. The more we can inform individuals through storytelling the great chances we have of flattening the curve.

Contact: is an online survey that people can use to report symptoms when they are sick, regardless of whether they have received a coronavirus test. 

The goal is to reach every person in the US who is potentially infected with coronavirus. This is incredibly important because it will help to inform what we need to do, and we lack the test kits for this information.

Current status of the project: 

  • Survey is up and collecting data! 
  • The team is waiting on final confirmation that they can proceed with data analysis
  • They are currently working on a pipeline to get raw survey data into published analysis on the website

Here’s How You Can Help: 

  • There is a need for people who are familiar with how to solve the problem of getting raw Qualtrics data into analysts’ hands, refreshed every day
  • There is a need for people to maintain the website with new daily analysis updates
  • This team is also looking for more data analysts, especially people good with creating geographical maps (preferred R or maybe Python)
  • There is also a need to translate the survey into spanish or other foreign languages, and help adding this feature to the website

Other Info:

  • Link to GitHub site
  • Department of Public Works site TBA soon

Contact: Leader: Dr. Amy Kalkbrenner (, Dr. Brian Barkley (

MKE Strong App  

This app is your guide to local restaurants, retailers, artists and how to support them. 

Milwaukee businesses and the thousands of people they employ are in distress. In an effort to assist our neighbors and curb the number of business closures, the MKE Strong app will highlight the myriad of different resources, charitable funds, business offerings, etc… available to those Milwaukee’s ready and willing to support their community. 

Current status of the project:

  • The app is up and running with over 300 listings. 
  • Next steps are to expand the number of listings and user reach. 

Here’s How You Can Help:

  • To enhance business listing growth this team needs volunteers to add more businesses and  help make sure businesses know they can submit/edit their listing.
  • To expand user and email subscriber growth. We need more people to do manual outreach to share this with their friends, family, employer, and moves/shakers in the community.

Contact: Paul Lemley ( 

This project provides case numbers and projections + a comprehensive listing of Milwaukee area resources for people in need, and ways for people to help fulfill that need.

Through this project you can find the most-up-to-date information on cases and estimates given trends and a growing evidence base, as well as a categorized listing of ways to get or give support.

Current status of the project:

Here’s How You Can Help:

  • There is a need for someone to manage social media for the project and highlight 1-2 projects 2x/day 
  • Light UI/UX work to improve flow of the site.

Contact: Kyle Halleman ( + Andrew Yaspan (


A Month of Panels in The Milky Way!

Panels, Panels, and more Panels!

This month I had the opportunity to moderate and speak on several panels. I picked up some amazing gems along the way that I had to share!

Toward the beginning of the month I had the pleasure of being on a panel hosted by Northwestern Mutual’s African American Employee Resource Group!  It was such an honor to sit along side amazing women to discuss  navigating tech careers and sharing the importance of representation in tech! I was super thrilled to be sitting next to Keisha Howard founder of Sugar gamers. She’s a true gem ! 

Key takeaways from this panel: 

  • Communities that want to help address the racial and gender disparities in STEM fields should commit to giving time, money and resources.
  • When exploring career paths— educate yourself as much as possible on the industry and all it has to offer.
  • Technology is democratizing entrepreneurship.— Create what you want!

This month I also moderated a panel for Northwestern Mutuals Girls in Tech day!  This panel was geared toward young girls in middle school! We talked about the power of standing out! Knowing that these brilliant young women are interested in a career in STEM gives me hope for the future! 

Key takeaways: 

  • Leverage what makes you unique.
  • Ask questions early and often.
  • YouTube University is a great way to pick up a new skill!
  • It’s possible to be artsy/creative and have a passion for STEM at the same time!

Lastly, yesterday I sat on a panel hosted by Panther Hacks. Again, it was an incredible honor to sit alongside amazing leaders in Milwaukee. We had a candid conversation about Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial capabilities and the need to address Milwaukee’s segregation issues in order to ensure Milwaukee reaches its full potential. 

Key take aways:

  • Take risks!
  • It’s better to fail big than to fail small because of the level of learning along the way.
  • Don’t allow people to project their limitations on you! 
  • Never underestimate your ability to make change!
  • Keep a solid support system.. but believe in yourself enough to fly solo if you have to. 

I ‘m grateful for the community leaders in the city that made all of these amazing events possible. I especially am grateful for the amazing folks at Northwestern Mutual that continue pour their time and resources into the community to empower Milwaukee’s tech hub!

Good stuff!

Check out my new podcast –


Jet Constellations and The Milky Way- A Moment with the Founder

Jet Constellations continues to make head way in creating an urban tech hub in Milwaukee. The Milky Way Tech Hub initiative aims to ensure Milwaukee’s tech hub is reflective of its diverse population. Watch the video below to learn more about Jet Constellations and The Milky Way initiative!


Momentum in the Milky Way

Momentum in the Milky Way!

hackthedreamThere were many notable events last week that featured tech, entrepreneurship and networking. Several of which were in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to attend the “Hack the Dream” event Hosted by i.c.Stars. and had an amazing time!

Hack the Dream was an incredible event that aimed to highlight the work of the Office of Violence Prevention and bring non-profits and technologist in the city together to ideate solutions for the city’s problems. I had the opportunity to participate in the pitch contest and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

Mayor Barrett

At the beginning of the event we were greeted by the Mayor who encouraged everyone in the room to continue putting forth efforts to making Milwaukee a tech hub. I was happy to hear him give Jet Constellations Milky Way initiative a shout out! Following a presentation on OVP from director Reggie Moore, representatives of the non-profits were grouped with technologist to quickly develop a solution to a problem presented by the non-profits earlier. I was paired up with Urban Underground to develop a way to leverage technology to communicate stories of disenfranchised people. After about an hour groups pitched their ideas.
Judges William Caraher Melanie Cannon Brown Adam Gabornitz & Reggie Moore chose a local grass roots organization,  Program the Parks to be the winner!

This was an inspiring event and a great way to spend MLK day. I’m looking forward to participating in similar events in the future.


Startup Milwaukee Week Emphasizes the Importance of Diversity in Milwaukee’s Tech and Startup Ecosystem

JetConstellationsdesignstudio (5)

Jet Constellations Presents the Inaugural
Startup Milwaukee Week Diversity Track

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – As Milwaukee’s startup community continues to grow it is extremely important that this community is a reflection of Milwaukee’s diverse population. Startup Milwaukee recognizes the importance of diversity in Milwaukee’s tech and startup ecosystems and is partnering with Jet Constellations, a local startup focused on building a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs that represent Milwaukee’s diverse population to ensure inclusion through Startup Milwaukee Week’s diversity track programming.

This is the first year Startup Milwaukee Week which runs November 5 – 11, 2018 has included a diversity track which will include nine events hosted by organizations such as Jet Constellations, MalmaDoe, Spearity and 88nine Radio Milwaukee.

“Having a strong STEM workforce that is inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds is critical for the Milwaukee region to be competitive in the 21st century,” said Nadiyah Johnson founder of Jet Constellations “We are committed to closing the diversity gap in Milwaukee’s tech and  startup community and aim to raise awareness of the need to do so throughout Startup Milwaukee Week’s diversity track.”

“Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce for the tech and startup community would be a competitive advantage for Milwaukee as we continue to develop the ecosystem,” said Matt Cordio president of Skills Pipeline and organizer of Startup Milwaukee Week. “We are excited to partner with Jet Constellations as part of our commitment to advance the tech community, moving southeastern Wisconsin’s economy forward, and provide more opportunity to build and grow a pipeline of startups and technology talent.”

According to Pew Research, Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Blacks are 9% of STEM workforce while being 11% of the total US workforce. The lack of representation of women, Blacks and Hispanics hold strong financial implications. It’s no secret that jobs in STEM fields average higher salaries compared with many non-STEM jobs. If there is not a significant push for STEM education in underrepresented communities the wage gap will not only persist but also expand. There will be an approximate 9 million jobs in the STEM industry by 2022.

Jet Constellations believes that quality STEM education should be afforded to everyone not just the elite institutions. It is vital that we as a country understand what’s at stake and care enough to take action.

Diversity Track Event Information





Jet Constellations: The Milky Way –

Changing the Culture of STEM



88Nine Radio Milwaukee

MalmaDoe: Women Founder’s Business Lifecycle




Thrive: People Strategy – setting and growing thriving culture


1:00 PM

Technology Innovation Center

Spearity: Developing Inner City Tech Entrepreneurs


Milwaukee Networking Hub: Speednetworking – Building Relationships, One Round at a Time



Central Standard

UWM’s Immerisive Media Lab (Augmented & Virtual Realities):

Tour UWM’s Immersive Media Lab


9:00 AM

Kenilworth Square East Side of Building

Lubar Entrepreneurship Center:

UWM Social Good Morning with Dr. Moe Mukiibi


9:30 AM

UWM Freshwater Science

88Nine Radio Milwaukee:

88Nine Labs | Moving the needle: How new technology is changing the music industry


5:30 PM

Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs

88Nine Radio Milwaukee:

88Nine x Capitol Records Hackathon


10:00 AM

Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs

About Jet Constellations:

Jet Constellations is a community tech hub that functions to promote STEM education in our communities, consult tech oriented startups, and build a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs that represent Milwaukee’s diverse population. Startup Milwaukee Week’s  Diversity Track presented by Jet Constellations’ Milky Way initiative aims to promote diversity in Milwaukee‘s tech scene.

About Startup Week Milwaukee:

Startup Milwaukee Week presented by Advocate Aurora Health takes place on November 5 – 11, 2018, and is designed to connect, educate, and celebrate entrepreneurship in Southeast Wisconsin. The week’s programming showcases the community’s emerging companies while highlighting the resources and organizations available to foster support for entrepreneurs on their journey. The week will feature 40+ events hosted by 35+ partner organizations in the community. Startup Milwaukee Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Milwaukee Business Journal and Newsradio 620 WTMJ and is a part of the Startup Wisconsin initiative.


Tech-Hub for The Milky Way

stikerdesktop (1)Jet Constellations is a local startup that functions to promote STEM education in Milwaukee, consult tech oriented startups, and build a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs . Jet Constellations’ Milky Way initiative works to transform Milwaukee into a tech hub that represents the city’s diverse population through community workshops, panels, talks, hackathons and design thinking sessions.  It is evident diversity in STEM spurs innovation and plays a significant role in ensuring the best ideas and solutions see the light of day.  An inclusive tech scene in Milwaukee will help the city reach its full potential. Milwaukee will be known as The Milky Way, a tech hub made up of creators and innovators that are representative of its population.
Follow Jet Constellations
Instagram – @jetconstellations
Facebook- Jet Constellations