Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Opportunity Zone Transformation Program

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One-line solution summary:

Opportunity Zones redevelopment must intentionally stabilize marginalized residents & build their resilience capacity.

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Pitch your solution.

Black & Latinx will disproportionately be impacted by the consequences of climate change & automation exacerbating inequalities. According to Forbes, by 2050 the population will 1) represent more than 50% of the total population & 2) the median household wealth is projected to drop to albeit zero. This is  profoundly unjust & dangerous for the stabilization of our democracy & economy. The urgency to transform a distressed community’s (Opportunity Zone) ecosystem is unprecedented.  GCD’s three pronged approach is as follows: 1)Social Entrepreneurship Academy + case management specifically for the most marginalized populations (e.g. formerly incarcerated people of color, single parents & Opportunity Youth) into low entry barrier tracks which will be resilient to climate change & automation, 2) governance consortium building to ensure a supportive ecosystem & policy alignment as well as 3) a Future of Work dashboard to support monitoring of need in order to support informed decision making.

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What specific problem are you solving?

 Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways. The unemployment rate in Opportunity Zones (OZs) is nearly 14%, 2xs the national average. Urban residents of OZs are overwhelmingly historically marginalized groups & overrepresented in occupations projected to have the highest displacement rate (25.5%). Additionally, they lack the support, resources, & capital to develop resilience. Our Social Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA) will provide free capacity building & resilience support.

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

Due to historical State sponsored oppression, governance stakeholders lack relationship equity with marginalized communities. This is problematic for well-intentioned decision makers seeking to develop responsive agendas. Additionally, the severity & intricacies of need is difficult to assess, compounded by the rate of change &  limited to the available of information.  Our Future of Work (FOW) dashboard, powered by a community data trust, allows multidimensional insight & thus effective problem solving.

Problem 3: Stakeholder alignment 

It is necessary to transform the entire ecosystem of jurisdictions-examining human support service models, governance behavior, communities & investment priorities. Therefore, mandating a multidimensional 5-10 year roadmap & training to ensure alignment, integration & agenda setting of all stakeholders to maximize the window of opportunity.

 

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What is your solution?

 

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways.  

SEA is a free program offered to the most under resourced populations: formerly incarcerated people of color (FIPOC), low income single parents and Opportunity Youth. SEA provides: one year of training (core courses, track courses (resilient enterprises with low entry barriers); two years of case management to stabilize the household and; ongoing business development & mentorship to participants committed to launching an enterprise within their OZ of residence.

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

We negotiate and execute a community data trust to develop a ‘deep’ community informed platform which compiles demographic, life conditions (e.g. Adverse Childhood Experience scores, criminal record, chronic illnesses etc), community resources & infrastructure (e.g. nutrient density accessibility, resilient training, school proficiency rate etc.) and other germane information that can be spatially analyzed in order to support governance stakeholders effectively deploy resources to its most vulnerable citizenry.

Problem 3: Stakeholder alignment + Consortium Building

 Through the development of a consortium, training and a 5-10 year plan stakeholders are supported in developing a roadmap towards inclusive prosperity and community resilience. Additionally, we connect we support identification of mission aligned funding. 

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways.  

The primary benefactors of SEA-participants & their families.  We will provide resources & supports designed to stabilize the fellow, fellow’s household & the enterprise. The successful trajectory shift of the participant will directly impact the participant’s children & dependent family.  The secondary benefactor is location bound- the pilot’s architecture is designed & strives to serve as a catalytic strategy for community revitalization & economic development. The planet will be a benefactor of the successful enterprises. By accelerating the rate of green job development & enterprise, green policy procurement & green economy ecosystems will be in alignment with several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

 

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

 Via engagement with governance leaders we will ascertain all of the information dimensions which impeded effective deployment of resources seeking to stabilize distressed communities. Additionally, via relationship equity and trust we will execute a community data trust which accounts for germane dimensions impacting the population’s full access and participation in democracy and the economy.

Problem 3: Stakeholder alignment + Consortium Building

Through cross sector alignment we develop a clear roadmap for ecosystem transformation.  

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Implement competency-based models for life-long learning and credentialing
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Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge and your selected dimension.

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways.  

SEA is aligned three dimensions of this challenge: We will specifically support BIPOC with a lens on those who are the most under resourced of the population. Our courses will be proctored by university professors and our partnership with local universities to ensure  access to high quality, free skill building opportunities for those who are entering the workforce for the first time, after a long period or transitioning. We recognize not all graduates will establish an enterprise thus the non-degree pathway allows for the acquisition of marketable employment skills.  

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Irving, Texas, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model
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Who is the team lead for your solution?

Nikka Lemons, CEO + Co-founder

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How many people work on your solution team?

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways.  

  • full time: 1 LCSW
  • part time: 2 business development, policy analyst
  • contractors: 1 cultural psychologist (trauma responsiveness to SEA fellows), 6 adjunct professors 


Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance” 

  • full time: 1 full stack developer
  • part time: 1 researcher


Problem 3: Stakeholder alignment + Consortium Building

  • full time: 1
  • part time: 2 (varies according to # of stakeholder members), the desired pace (5, 7,10 year plan) of the consortium.  
  • contractors: 1 CFRE & CAP- supports connection to mission aligned capital 


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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization?

We are a cross-cultural group of social impact consultants who design, build, and test community co-designed capital strategies which prepare our nation for impending labor shortages due to automation and climate change, while proofing our neighborhoods against unsustainable and ecologically unsafe financial practices. Each and every team member shares our organizational values, is a member of a marginalized group and has lived experience which is integral to the fidelity and sincerity of our work. 

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Problem 1:    

  • Existing entrepreneur fellowships are highly competitive, our ideal candidates would typically not be competitive for a variety of reasons. Those furthest from access to stabilization and resilience from the impending consequences are also most undeserved. Our model responds to the multidimensional needs which impede successful matriculation for this group (e.g. low income single parents, formerly incarcerated people of color, Opportunity Youth):  personal, financial, mental wellness, housing stabilization, liaise with parole officers etc. By addressing the distinct and severely undermining participation barriers participants gain access to vital skills, training and entrepreneurial support which expands access to the American Dreams augmented by climate change and automation.  

 Problem 2:  

  • Through the FOW dashboard we maximize the capacity of technology to eliminate inequities by leveraging the intersection of:  locational analysis, community trust and data sharing and user knowledge sharing(e.g. government, donors, social impact investors, social services) in order to effectively deploy resources and supports (e.g. STEM training recruitment , donors commitment to fund STEM programming for a local school, government prioritization of funds) to populations who will struggle to navigate the changing economy.

Problem 3:  

  • GCD fills a critical gap in strategic management- there is an absence of entities specifically training consortia to  yield the following: equitable outcomes and improved wellbeing while forecasting for the multidimensional barriers onset by climate change and automation with the goal of stabilizing democracy.  
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Describe the core technology, if applicable, that powers your solution.

The conversational application (artificial intelligence/machine learning feature) will provide users six utility options: 1) perform a multi-dimensional baseline assessment and construct an asset inventory, 2)the capability to analyze data sets by location and demographic variables , 3)the application of a novel combination of data (created by patent applicant) to a given segmentation and locale to simulate desired outcomes and forecasts needs, 4)function as a project management/monitoring tool of client’s projects which function to achieve a simulated outcome proposal, 5) provide a virtual platform for potential funders (e.g. philanthropist, social capital market investors etc.) and support providers (e.g. real estate developers with specialization in “difficult to develop” areas ) to identify and view potential aligned collaboration opportunities and 6) the integrates the data analysis capabilities with case management. 

 The goal of the conversational application is to enhance governance and community stakeholder capacity to precisely and effectively respond to the distinct and intricate needs of the citizenry of a specific demographic and locale.  The barriers encountered to effective response include (but are not limited to): temporal, access to the population  (trusted relationship to the population in order to develop community informed service models), funding constraints, human capacity (skills sets, pedagogical approach etc.), system failure or transition, insufficient information and beyond. 

  Additionally, stakeholders experience significant loss of time devoted to conceptualizing a process which often results in a moot proposal or one that is inefficient to respond to the now compounded needs that occurs in the time lapse.   

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Provide evidence that this technology works.

We have completed our provisional patent, worked with researchers are seeking funding to design the beta version and fund the validation by national experts (e.g. Dr. William Greene).

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
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What is your theory of change?

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways.  

  •  If GCD executes a pilot Social Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA) that is restorative, holistic and builds the capacity of the priority population to participate in their neighborhood’s revitalization, then, we will cultivate an inclusive neighborhood economy, thereby, spurring community wealth, disrupting placed based concentrated poverty without gentrification induced displacement and improve community health.         

               Result: Community Health & Wealth +  Inclusive  Participation  

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

  •  If GCD solves for authentic community engagement and incomplete information which should be utilized by governance stakeholders during decision making (e.g. policy, budget, priorities); then governance can respond to the existing and emerging threats of citizenry participation in the future of work, thereby allowing for a culture of inclusivity embedded in decision making and  resource allocation.

Result: Governance Behavior to facilitate City Resilience to Future of Work

Problem 3: Stakeholder alignment + Consortium Building

  • If GCD solves for the cross sector collaboration obstacles by providing a roadmap through research results (e.g. framework); then a process to facilitate the co-design of an inclusive ecosystem transformation plan, identification of the suitable metrics, as well as project management tools to monitor, track and troubleshoot implementation barriers can occur; thereby enabling the development of pathways to ensure shared prosperity amidst globally changing landscapes. 

Result: Cross-Sector Collaboration- Integration + Alignment-Future of Work Resilience

 

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many people did your solution serve in 2019? 2018? 2017?

None, this would be a pilot. At present we provide consultancy service to individual entities seeking to solve their operational and organizational architecture which produces inequitable outcomes (e.g. Seattle Public School District).

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What percent of the people you served in 2019 were between the age of 15 and 30?

  • 0-20%
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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Problem 1:    Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways +Problem 3:  Stakeholder alignment  

Year 1 Goal:  Acquired two years of funding ($425k). Launch a pilot (Fort Worth, Texas or Tacoma, WA. The decision will be determined by the fundraising capacity and support offered by the local governance stakeholders. This is critical because in order for the pilot to be successful there must be a willingness and supportive ecosystem in order to sustain gains. Governance stakeholders have to exhibit a certain level of willingness and commitment.   “Early adopters” and community organization capacity are important when assessing the “readiness” of a given jurisdiction.  GCD would rather launch in favorable ecosystem so to produce model and shared learnings for the field. Simultaneously, we have and are more than willing to continue to provide pro-bono support to distressed communities seeking to utilize mobilize in the interests of marginalized groups. For example, we organized a countywide expunction program which involved: waiving of filing fees for applicants, free legal service and meals) as a means to increasing employment access. 

Year 5 Goal: Launching cohort 4 for City 1. Launch cohort 2 of City 2. Formalization of shared learnings and build the capacity of other entities to utilize our(by this time) evidence based certified program in order to scale so to maximize the current window of opportunity.

 Problem 2:  Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

Year 1: With full funding, End of Year 1, pilot a beta (case study). 

Year 5: Sizeable subscription. 

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Financial: We do not have funding for this project. At present our client services have predominantly been in the realm of single entity organizational design for equitable outcomes, program development, DEI training, community based organization capacity building (e.g. Medicaid billable, grant writing, program design and evaluation) and project management. Thus, our team is paid according to contracts secured or awarded. The proposed project is a new service model which requires funding in order to execute a pilot.

 Technical: Our team has the capacity to execute this project, developed templates (e.g. consortium training), filed a non-provisional patent and have advised policy design. However, due to lack of funding to employ staff to focus solely on this project we’ve not been able to devote a lot of time to fund development so that we can offer this service to SEA participants, local governance stakeholders and fund a beta. 

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

The CEO + Co-founder recently left her full time job and is utilizing her family’s savings to supplement household income in order to devote herself to developing and piloting this project. As of recent, GCD was a finalist for Kauffman Foundation’s funding profile- “Unique Entry Barriers for Diverse Entrepreneurs”. We were not selected and the feedback provided from the Senior Portfolio Manager is as follows:

  1. The foundation has not entered a phase whereby they are comfortable funding projects to extract learnings. The foundation is more in a phase of research as opposed to applied research
  2. GCD is not a nonprofit and the foundation is very reluctant to use its funds to support a for profit venture though it understands the program is more social wellbeing oriented.

Additionally, the CEO is still in contact with the Sr. Portfolio Manager who volunteered to submit a nomination to the Ashoka foundation. 

As a result of working full time on this project the CEO has:

  1. Made greater traction with network development
  2. Submitted more grants
  3. Is in the process of scheduling a private “Ted talk” in order to “debut” all of GCD’s new service models- this service model is one of three. 
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What outcomes data would you like to be collecting that you are not yet able to collect?

We’d like to be able to track , post implementation, social impact metrics which span a continuum: reduction in government expenditure, the impact of our program on the children’s wellbeing (e.g. test proficiency, truancy, exposure to environmental toxins, grades etc.), reduction in government budget allocation for imprisonment, reduction in recidivism, reduction in unemployment, household income earning for 5 years etc. / impact on children of participants 

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Not registered as any organization
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If you selected Other, please explain here.

We’d like to be able to track , post implementation, social impact metrics which span a continuum: reduction in government expenditure, the impact of our program on the children’s wellbeing (e.g. test proficiency, truancy, exposure to environmental toxins, grades etc.), reduction in government budget allocation for imprisonment, reduction in recidivism, reduction in unemployment, household income earning for 5 years etc. 

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How many people are on your leadership team? (Of these, please provide the number of individuals from your leadership team that are full time, part time, and volunteer)

2: 1 full time and 1 volunteer. All other individuals consist of independent consultants which exhibit skill sets germane to a contract awarded.

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What is the number of individuals from my leadership team that attended community college for at least one year?

1

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What is the number of individuals from my leadership team that received a Pell grant as a college student?

2

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In what year was your organization founded? How many years have you worked on your solution?

2018. The solution proposed has been an ongoing research paradigm proposed in the dissertation (August 2021) of the Co-founder. She has been working on this model for more than 5 years as part of her recommended "reconciliation plan" to the U.S. - post genocide committed against African Descendants of American Slavery. She has presented on this topic at a number of conferences.

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Marshaun Barber, JD was the Executive Director at All Seattle Kids home; an organization that worked with school aged children, unaccompanied minors, and their families at imminent risk of homelessness in King County, WA. She was a civil legal aid attorney for 3 years . Her role of case manager/advocate and core course instructor of SEA make her an essential team member.    

 Nikka Lemonsis the co-founder of Global Citizens Development. Her dissertation (Urban Planning & Economic Development) consists of a multi-dimensional paradigm which aims to guide the transformation of ecosystems to ensure inclusive prosperity and resilience and is the inspiration for GCD’s new three service models. She was appointed by the former Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools as the Department Director of Equity Initiatives & Outcome- a two year appointment. She is the proud granddaughter of Will Lemons- a WWI veteran who returned home to be lynched by the KKK because he exceeded “his station in life” and a first generation college student.

  Lisa Wright is the Vice President of Mizuho Americas. She holds a MBA in Business from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and has served as an investment banker for JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Lisa will be serving as a Business Development advisor and curriculum content consultant to ensure the instructors are aware of all the emerging dynamics which would impact the ROI and resilience of the enterprise to the emerging economy.  

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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

  • Historic Stop Six initiative (HSSI), a community development special project of Fort Worth Independent School District, for more than seven years. Pro-bono support includes: development of a community wellbeing plan which repurposed vacant land adjacent to a local school within a distressed community (received a national award from the American Planning Association), Countywide expunction program, research advocacy which was utilized by the Hope Center development plan etc. 
  • Urban League of Tacoma was the co-applicant for the submission to the Kauffman foundation. We continue to investigate funding together with the aim of utilizing trusted community partners to access the most marginalized communities. 
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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

This program (AI tool + training) provides a B2B service to a given jurisdiction which is seeking mitigation and readiness support to respond to the consequences of climate change and automation (e.g. policy analysis and recommendations, community engagement, alignment support, consortium capacity building etc.) during the current window of opportunity. Additionally, this service is valued for its integration of equity as an essential outcome- as our nation’s local governance leaders are being called upon to commit to reconciliation efforts which address historical and enduring institutional oppression & racism (e.g. currently a consulting for the Renton (WA)  Racial Reconciliation  plan).  Additionally, via our AI and dashboard, subscription based, we would support community hold governance accountable while solving for governance leader’s problems of practice related to access to sufficient information to effectively deploy resources.   

2
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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your path to financial sustainability?

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways

GCD will be applying for IRB approval before engaging the population- ensuring we do no additional harm to an already marginalized population. Our ultimate goals are to: 1)utilize the research findings and results to achieve Evidence Based Practice Certification and 2) become Medicaid and insurance billable so provide the service for free for a range of participants.  

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

 The Total Addressable Market for Geographic Information System market expected to grow from USD 8.1 billion in 2020 to USD 14.5 billion by 2025. Of the Served Available Market there is an absence of ”deep integration platforms” which explores all of the dimensions of analysis needed in order to optimize technology to support decision making that could solve for social good. If we were to gain a 10% share of the market such would total %1.45B in revenue.

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If you have raised funds for your solution or are generating revenue, please provide details.

This is a new service model for GCD. We have not raised funds for this suite of social good services. Foundations have considered our proposal and even sought funding stream alternatives due to our technical disqualification - an LLC vs. non profit.  Thus, we have established a non profit arm to avert this technical disqualification in the future. 

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If you seek to raise funds for your solution, please provide details.

The Opportunity Zone Transformation Program (OZTP) is seeking a total of $900K in grant funding. This is intentional in order to maintain as must as autonomy during the earliest stages of development. Maintaining profits is important to the expansion of our future services- real estate development. GCD would like to add a real estate development arm which specializes in master planned communities with a central aim of supporting cities realize their goals but also directly advance equity via the built environment 

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What are your estimated expenses for 2021?

At present our services consist of independent consultants and unpaid sector experts who are collectively working together to evolve GCD’s service models. All of staff utilize their full time jobs or our joint pursuit of contracts (e.g. King County’s annual Homeless Point in Time count) to fulfill household financial obligations. Thus, our expenses only consist of minor overhead expenses:  email hosting, accounting, insurance, advertising and marketing, etc.) which is less than $3000 a year. 

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Partnership Opportunities

Why are you applying to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge?

Problem 1 (SEA): Upon finalizing SEA as evidence based certified (after 1st year), it would be most advantageous to begin piloting several cohorts in other cities. Because we are going to seek IRB approval and the model includes a psychiatrist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in order to received accreditation, we will have controlled for the most critical scaling concern- maintaining quality and standardization. At this time, partnering with an organization like Reform Alliance could increase the visibility, implementation and investment in the model so to increase access to more funding to support other dimensional needs of the fellows (E.g. two year stipend etc.). 

 

Problem 2 (AI):

The development of our AI tool is fundamentally essential to the three-pronged approach. It supports the development, monitoring and maintenance of our social impact as well as supports the governance execution via the organizational design changes made to inform decision making. Thus the technical expertise and support are vital assets to our pilot and the fidelity of our development. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Solution technology
  • Marketing, media, and exposure
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Please explain in more detail here.

Solution technology: AI is a fundamentally essential element our three pronged model as we strive to ensure we solve for Problem # 2 Lack of optimizing AI solution to govern for good. 

Funding and revenue model:  would be a tremendous value add to ensure the maintenance of autonomy- we endeavor to develop additional entity arms committed to improving the wellbeing of marginalized groups. 

Marketing, media and exposure: would enhance our platform which would support matriculation through funding/investment series. 



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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Problem 1: Lack of resilient employment & wealth building pathways. The unemployment rate in  

In order to deploy such a practice nationally in order to maximizes the gains from this solution (SEA) during this current window of opportunity it would be ideal to work with Reform Alliance.  The organization has the platform to mobilize this as a federal funded program as a method to ensure “rehabilitation” process and successful “reintegration” into public life among formerly incarcerated people of color. Many of whom have and continue to be victims of the “New Jim Crow” and the prison industrial complex of this nation.

Problem 2: Failure to optimize AI to exhibit “smart governance”

Microsoft for Good would be a great partner because there’s a AI for Good innovation center.  Many emerging platforms for maintaining, supporting and monitoring state stability are in development. The AI tool proposed would be enriched as we start to contemplate an expansion of the model to respond to the needs of developmentally vulnerable countries.  

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Solution Team

  • NL NL
    Nikka Lemons CEO/Co-Founder, Global Citizens Development, LLC
 
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