Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

3 Tribes Trading , Rattlinggourds, llc.

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What is the name of your solution?

Tribal Resilience & Innovation Business Centers-Tribe Center

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Indigenizing the idea of working from home, by bringing innovation, employment and tech to indigenous communities.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Families are forced to decide between wages and tradition. Indigenous people want to go home. They leave, going out to gather degrees and education, but have little to no employment opportunities when they come back. To look at the solution we need to listen and look at the problem. Many native communities have little infrastructure, and few employment opportunities, this creates a cyclical problem within the community. As a tribal member and as a council member for my tribe I have seen and understand that we need to look at the community as a whole. We need people to work, but have no steady employment, which means we have no young people to help, without the young people there is no one to listen and pass on the knowledge from our elders. Many tribes rely on grants to keep their communities going. Most of the money allotted to tribes is based on community size. With fewer people we have less money, which means we cannot properly take care of the properties we have as they age. This creates less infrastructure. A couple statistics to think about:

+573 Federally Recognized Tribes with 325 reservations across the lower 48 states

+Poverty rate for families living on Rez is 36% compared to the U.S. national average of 9.2 %

+Lack of employment opportunities, rural communities offer little to no job advancement

+Medium household income is $35,310 compared to $51,371 for the United States

+Native Americans and Alaska Natives make up 2% of the population


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What is your solution?

Tribal Resilience & Innovation Business Centers, will be a 501 c3 non-profit that will work with individual tribal communities to build Tribal Enhancement Centers or T.E.C. sites. The location will offer, depending on the need of the people,  5-20 work stations so that tribal members can "work from home." They will have rentable individual cubicles. Indigenous communities could have more of their members working remote positions, thereby increasing employment and decreasing poverty, but they lack the internet connection, computers powerful enough or even the quite spaces that they need. The T.E.C. initiative will give them that space. The locations can also allow tribal members the opportunity to attend virtual training, to further their education or work with each other for workshops. Tribal members can represent more then one tribe, so it also allows them to access their other tribal resources. These locations can offer non-tribal members the opportunity to rent spaces at a higher cost, or a community can choose to make it for tribal members only. The T.E.C. locations will also accommodate a large game room that can be accessed through membership (can be volunteer or reward based if tribes want,) so that young people can access high powered games and computers that they may not be able to access otherwise. I firmly believe that opportunity and accessibility foster innovation. These centers will allow more people to come home after they have gotten their education. Remote positions will continue to grow and T.E.C. sites will offer members a place to do that. The T.E.C. site can (depending on location) offer in house data storage to generate additional income. Bills are being passed to boost the infrastructure of Indian country, more internet access, building, education, language and energy. As a non-profit the Tribal Resilience & Innovation Business centers will be able to access funding that regular organizations cannot. The goal is to work with and tailor each location to the tribe that it serves, this will mean that each locations resources and costs will differ, but we will work with partners to offer stable innovative spaces. We will foster growth through strategic developments with tech companies to donate games, computers, consoles, cubicles or any resources that can be provided.  Part of the bigger initiate of the Tribal Resilience & Innovation Centers will be to  run fiber and enable all citizens to receive free Wi-Fi strong enough to meet educational/tribal sharing/learning needs. This will also generate revenue to help operate the T.E.C. sites. 

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Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

Megan Gourd is serving the Gidutikad Band of Northern Paiute (Fort Bidwell Indian Community) as a tribal council member, but the first T.E.C. site will be based on a thorough evaluation of resources and tribal areas. A feasibility study will need to be done, there are over 573 federally recognized tribes, some have more resources then others. Some tribes are getting grants for broadband now, but will need time to implement this. An evaluation will determine which location will be chosen first. The goal will be to have one T.E.C. location developed and in construction by the end of the first year, once the ground work and network is established subsequent T.E.C. locations will be opened based on partnerships and funding. An objective of five centers over a course of six years is desirable. 

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

The team currently consists of Jeffrey Gourd and Megan Gourd. Jeffrey a member of the Cherokee Nation, has a Masters in Business Admin with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship. He has advanced training in negotiations, is certified in commercial real estate and has worked with non-profits. Megan Gourd has been working toward her degree in Social Entrepreneurship and will graduate in Fall 2022, she then plans to peruse a Masters in Urban Planning and Sustainable smart cities, she is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Missouri and has over 10 years experience in non-profits. She currently is a council member for her tribe, the Gidutikad Band of Northern Paiute and a board member for the Southwest Missouri Indian Center in Springfield, MO. Both Jeffery and Megan won the 2nd place New Idea Competition Challenge sponsored by Northeastern State University in 2009. Both have a Permaculture design certification, from the Restoring and Reclaiming Indigenous Agriculture Program. Megan has a certificate in Regenerative Architecture & Ecological design as well. 

A team will be built that will need to encompass many other trades. Both Megan and Jeff have met and worked with a variety of talented indigenous and non-indigenous individuals. Through networking and workshops a team will continue to be built, it will place integrity and compassion for native people and their needs first. Innovators and listeners will be added based on experience and work done for indigenous causes. 

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Tahlequah, OK, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Concept
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

None currently as we are in the initial phase, however, Tribal Reliance & Innovation Centers aims to serve thousands of indigenous people.

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Why are you applying to Solve?

Tribal Resilience & Innovation Business Centers need to continue networking with other like minded individuals. Really it is about getting heard and listened to. We lack the clout or creditability to be heard. Being a part of SOLVE puts our idea out for people who want to help with this initiative. Funding is always important, but building a strong team comes first. Having worked in non-profits we understand that passion does not always lead to solutions, many people join but leave when difficulties arise, are in it only for the title or just plain don't know how to work on a team! We need people who want to be innovators, who understand the collective mindset that indigenous communities once thrived on and want to put tribal people and communities on the map!

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

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Megan Gourd

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Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Gidutikad Band Northern Paiute- Fort Bidwell Indian Community

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Is the Team Lead a resident of the United States?

Yes

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

Support the creation and growth of Native owned businesses and promote workforce programs in tribal communities.

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Part of the innovation is that the locations allow the tribal locations to take action within their community. Many times outside people come in to develop programs that benefit themselves more then the people on the reservations. The Tribal Resilience & Innovation Centers bring the decisions and tech to the reservations and each location is designed with the people it is serving at the forefront.  When indigenous knowledge is used it takes on a holistic quality. Indigenous people know to look at the whole circle, the centers will have a lasting impact on may levels because they take those into account from the beginning. 

These are indigenous mini communities that will allow native people the opportunity to innovate from an indigenous holistic perspective. 

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Each location will be provided with the particular people and nations it is serving. The five year goal is to have 6 locations up and running. By allowing more native people the opportunity to stay home to work, to get an education it will impact peoples perceptions of themselves. They will be able to have a greater impact by not spending as much time traveling, they will have more money to spend in their own communities. If people are working then it allows a better, stable environment for the children and elders. Just the act of being allowed to stay in the community means more children in the area, more people to learn the language, more people to help the elders and engage with the tribal governments or councils. In this  way we are taking into account the whole circle. 

There are many native groups now that are offering training in a wide range of areas. The people will have the opportunity to learn what they want, they can collaborate with other native people and strengthen our programs. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Measurable goals would be an increase in employment, this would vary by location due to population size. Since each location will be dependent to the population size the goals would include an increase of work from home positions, an increase in online learning (higher education) and increase in workshops attendance. It would be the goal of the organization to have a rotating immersive tech learning experience for tribal youth. Allowing a minimum of 8 work from home positions for tribal residents would be desirable. As mentioned in other sections, an increase in employment would decrease poverty and reduce travel time. With an increase in wages or employment, personal wellbeing will increase as well as decrease in supplemental support. While I appreciate the UN Sustainable Development Goals I would like to offer that what native people have known for a long time is that every thing is connected. When one section is taken care of all others will also be impacted. The native people also were aware of the need for self-actualization. Malsow learned this concept when he studied with the Siksika Nation. However, what the native people knew and what Maslow knowingly inverted was that without self-actualization nothing else will have continuous improvement. Our measurable goal with TRIBE Centers is to honor this knowledge and to understand that by allowing the indigenous people the opportunity to stay and thrive in their communities they will have a higher benefit then just suppling food and shelter. 


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What is your theory of change?

The TRIBE Centers will immediately impact poverty levels in tribal nations. This will have a cascading impact on the wellness of families and tribal businesses. Larger Tribes such as the Seminole, Cherokee and Navajo have already initiated innovative programs to keep their members within their nations. The Cherokee Nation for example bought its own IHS hospital, sold some of its casino holdings and used federal contracts in conjunction with grants to subsidize its facility.  While some of the services are available for any registered member of a tribe, others are only allowed for natives who live within the county requirement.

 Many business incubators and innovation grants are available to tribal entities, but they are seldom used on reservations. Most are organized in larger cities, such as Albuquerque, Seattle and Portland Oregon. This brings us back to the problem and lack of infrastructure on smaller Indian reservations.  When we bring more people to a location the amount of funding will increase. This will in turn offer more housing funding, so more houses can be built and more tribal members can live there. With increased population boosts funding for tech, food sovereignty and an increased ability to have financial stability within the tribe. The more people, the more involvement, the higher probability of revived language and culture. Many of the grandparents and even parents have lived through boarding schools, or "the Sixties Scoop" where native children were forcibly removed and relocated or adopted out to non-native families. The loss of family, language and culture can be healed through bringing our people home. 


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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The TRIBE Center will incorporate many tech initiatives and each will be custom to the location and nation it will serve. While the TRIBE Centers will rely on computers and shared learning spaces, the heart of what can generate ongoing financial support will be selling storage space and offering broadband services to tribal and surrounding areas. Many tribal nations have limited internet services currently. If the tribe can be the owners and operators of the broadband company on reservation they can utilize grants to offset initial costs. 

The TRIBE Centers themselves will be built with Vernacular architecture, ecological design and permaculture as their blue print. Environment has a huge impact on peoples wellbeing, offering open spaces, natural light, ergonomically innovative cubicles, desks, and computers will allow the native communities to become leaders and innovators in remote work positions. 

Opportunity is the main component here. When we give people the opportunity to make an impact, to learn, to share, we cannot say what they may come up with. Native communities have for the most part been denied the ability to engage with tech solutions. There can be utilization of software development, UX experience, block chain, project management, a literal indigenizing of all of these platforms; offering more perspective to the tech industry as a whole. 

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Biomimicry
  • Biotechnology / Bioengineering
  • Blockchain
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Materials Science
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
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In which states do you currently operate?

  • California
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
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In which states will you be operating within the next year?

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

Right now there are only two, however to be successful 3 Tribes Trading will need to have a group of 5 to start plus board members (5-7)

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How long have you been working on your solution?

3

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

In traditional native teachings people are taught to look at the whole circle and how everything interplays with everything else. To be the most successful the TRIBE Centers will need perspectives from the people who we will be actively serving along with those who understand the intricate requirements of grants and working with government agencies like the BIA.

The TRIBE Center and 3 Tribes Trading will actively seek people who have proven themselves as inclusive and fair. There tends to be a lot of disfunction in tribal governments, partly due to lack of infrastructure and being forced to abandon tribal collective mindset. Our people are working hard to reclaim and revive our previous sovereign nations.  Acknowledgment of the generational trauma and continued learning opportunities will allow our group to keep the momentum of positivity as we work with various nations. We need to also acknowledge that tribal governments and business leaders were taught to be profits oriented and will need extensive training to unlearn this behavior. If we do not look at all parts of our mission we will fail to have the impact we desire. 

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Tribal Resilience and Innovation centers will be based off a non-profit model. Since the initiative has a bottom line that represents community health and wellbeing it is not as focused on generating income from the participants. 3 Tribes Trading believes to be successful means to takes into account how the business impacts the location and the people above profits. As a non-profit organization TRIBE Centers will not have the pressure to perform or cut costs. They will also be able to leverage funding that has been set aside for the native communities. The TRIBE Centers will directly benefit the working population by allowing them to have work from home positions while still being able to be a part of their indigenous communities. This will create additional employment in terms of daycare, janitorial, tech support, management of each location and the increased income will spur additional businesses (home repair, auto purchases, clothing, furniture, and food.) Since much of the funding is based on population served it will boost the allowable federal funding as well. The cubicle style work stations can be rented or assigned to members that have positions secured. A rotating schedule can be used or if the location has a large enough population there can be second computer area designated to workshops and higher education. 

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

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

The TRIBE Centers will be set up as non-profit. The business will utilize federal funding to help offset the majority of the costs, many grants are available to tribal entities. Many tribes do not take advantage of these grants because they do not know how or lack the staffing required to operate. Depending on the tribes resources each location can have the opportunity to rent or allow tribal members to use for free the workstations available. Some locations will have the income from other operations to pay for some of the staffing, other locations will need to be totally reliant on grants to fund the positions. If the locations is deemed suitable there will be an opportunity to have on site storage or hosting facilities. This will offer a small amount to offset costs. There have also been a large increase in infrastructure grants available to tribes to help bring broadband to the reservations. If applicable locations will have a central broadband tower and give internet for free to tribal members, while supplying surrounding areas. This will generate income for the tribes, and the percentage can be determined to maintain each location. 

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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

The amount of funding received is currently zero, as our idea is only in conception phase. The cost of equipment we hope to greatly reduce by partnering with tech companies. The workshops for specialized training in tech, UX, Coding, project management, indigenous knowledge based instruction we expect to receive for little to no cost. There are organizations such as NDN collective, Illuminative, Oweesta, Sister Sky, Inc. and Native Learning Center, who have their own non-profit status and grants for bringing training to indigenous communities. TRIBE Centers will partner with these organizations to bring ongoing educational training. Some of the grants that can be used for buildings and business are Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI,) Administration for Native Americans (ANA,)

Grants to Support the Development of Rural Community Facilities (USDA,)

Native American Business Development Institute Feasibility Study Program (DOI,) Indian Loan Guaranty, Insurance, and Interest Subsidy, Rural Broadband

Loans & Loan Guarantees (USDA,) and NEA “Our Town” Grant Program. This is a partial list of possible grants that can be utilized to build and maintain the TRIBE locations. 

Any initial awarded money will go toward feasibility studies and consultant/grant writing fees. 

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Solution Team

  • Jeffrey Gourd Business Consultant , Rattlinggourds, LLC.
  • Megan Gourd Customer Relations Specialist/ Business Consultant/ Innovator , Rattlinggourds, LLC.
 
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