Indigenous Communities Fellowship
How can indigenous communities use technology while incorporating traditional and ancestral knowledge to create sustainable and prosperous livelihoods for themselves?
Worldwide, new technologies have expanded access to economic opportunities for marginalized communities. Indigenous communities are increasingly turned to as leaders who incorporate traditional values and new technology in order to build a sustainable economic future for their communities and the world. This is essential to creating wealth while sustaining the natural and cultural resources of indigenous peoples, whether in the Oceti Sakowin in the Midwest, or Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe in the Southwest.
For centuries, indigenous peoples have shown resiliency and ingenuity in the face of inequality. Despite current unemployment rates in Indian Country standing above 50 percent, the number of native-owned businesses is growing—Native American women have started at least 17 new businesses a day since 2007. Additionally, 40 percent of self-identified indigenous people in the US are under the age of 24. Supporting these youth as they create economic opportunities for themselves and their communities— whether through entrepreneurship, skills development, or job creation—is crucial for the future.
Through the Indigenous Communities Fellowship, MIT Solve seeks tech entrepreneurs within the Oceti Sakowin, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Tribe communities with solutions that support and scale sustainable economic development and resiliency. Solve welcomes solutions that:
- Enable new skill development and create employment opportunities that help sustain natural and cultural resources
- Support native youth in creating new business ventures
- Provide access to technology and connectivity
- Connect local entrepreneurs and business owners to accessible capital and markets
All selected Fellows will receive a minimum of $10,000 in fellowship funding and take part in the flagship Solve at MIT event in May 2019 and a regional Solve event in fall 2019. Fellows will be selected by a panel of cross-sector reviewers.
- Applicants must be over the age of 13.
- Submitted solutions must include use of technology for practical and functional purposes. This can be high-tech or low-tech: examples include software (mobile app), hardware (computers, phones, connectivity), agriculture (seeds, irrigation), and manufacturing. This may encompass new technology like drones and artificial intelligence, or existing ancestral technology (like traditional home structures or food storage and preservation) applied in new and interesting ways.
- Strong preference will be given to tribal members and native-led projects that directly benefit and are located within the Oceti Sakowin, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Tribe communities. Solve specifically looks for a diverse set of Fellows and projects.