Richard Session Logo

SisterFriends Detroit

Detroit Health Department

The People:

SisterFriends Detroit launched in August of 2017 as a grassroots program through the Detroit Health Department. With 13% of babies dying in Detroit before their first birthday the ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the infant mortality rate and also to connect pregnant women to a person who can provide social support throughout the pregnancy – up to the baby's first birthday. This is done by establishing a Little Sister relationship between a mentor and mentee.

The Problem:

The website for SisterFriends Detroit needed to be innovative, fun and engaging. This initiative needed an online presence that provides information to visitors in clear, concise language while also being easy to navigate to the resources they seek.

The website also needs to help encourage those visitors to volunteer and become a SisterFriend themselves.

SisterFriends Detroit also realized they needed a back office system to streamline the entering of data for various paper-based forms and progress reports and to be able to add more data on participants for better record-keeping and analysis.

The Plan:

Visitors should be able to glean from this website that Sister Friends is a celebration of motherhood, familyhood and show the bond of sisterhood. Provide constant communication and outreach to the women in a centralized location convenient to both the Sister Friend and her little sister by providing the following:

A branding package was created that meshed with the overall design direction of the SisterFriends brand including:

The Process:

After an approved scope of work and timeline and between multiple in-person meetings and communications within our project management center, we made sure we were continuously following the vision of SisterFriends Detroit leadership. Multiple iterations of designs related to the overall website design, the perception of imagery and the offline marketing materials were created to make sure that once the project was launched, we were confident that visitors truly understood the purpose of SisterFriends and how it relates to them.

Our process is to stay in constant communication with stakeholders to ensure that the project does not fall off course and continues to follow the vision put forth from the beginning. Everything is about communication!

The public-facing website and the back office portal was launched on Amazon Web Services using a variety of technologies including:

We wanted to make sure that the cloud-based infrastructure and provisioning of the hardware was reproducible. In order to do that we used Terraform and Packer by Hashicorp and Ansible. This provided a code-based way to not only build the servers and configure the services, but also version and document everything that was needed.

The Process:

We launched the first SisterFriends Detroit website during Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s "State of the City" address in 2017 with much success. The website provided easy navigation and pages provided concise information and calls to action that allowed visitors to successfully complete the tasks we set forth for them at the beginning of the program.

Members of the community were able to use the website to began to be a SisterFriend or a Little Sister. To date, SisterFriends Detroit has seen over 300 volunteer mentors make the decision to help a new mother throughout her new journey in life.

The back office portal was used to provide partners with informational feeds that were used to track program participation. Forms that were paper-based were now web-enabled and had the ability to be completed online and stored electronically. A matching system was used to find potential matches based on addresses and distance, home environment and other personal demographic information. The portal also allowed the staff at SisterFriends Detroit to track progress on various aspects of a participant’s progress through the program.