Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Indigenous Scholarship Search Engine

One-line solution summary:

A search engine, website/mobile based directory list for all Native American scholarships and internship, that will help college students.

Pitch your solution.

Currently there is no single entity or organization that focuses on complying, updating and sharing a Native American scholarship and internship database. There are many popular scholarship search engine websites, but the sections for Native Americans are limited, partial and not updated to reflect the newly additional opportunities throughout the school year. This problem had left college students to google search and filter through the hundreds of internet links to find opportunities that uniquely applies to their major, school, degree and location, etc. It is my goal to change the status quo, by creating a directory website based to reflect the current opportunities available for Native American students. Essentially, I am proposing to create a one-stop shop for scholarships that will directly help all native students across all states. When operational and scaled globally, educational organizations, universities and tribal nations can see what is available to there communities of students.

What specific problem are you solving?

There are several layers to the problem that hinders students from finding the resources they need to succeed. Whereas there are many scholarships search websites such as Chegg, Fastweb, Niche , etc, they are not updated on a consist basis, nor have a complete listing and are only organized by the general title “native American scholarships” and not by majors, schools, locations and special native requirements. The problem is that all this information is unconsolidated and un-centralized into a single resource where students and easily navigate and find opportunities. Also, there are many native lead non-profits, tribal programs, tribal businesses, university Native American programs that provide scholarships/internships, but it is out of there scope to keep a database system that captures all this information and share it with the general public. As a results, It may be cumbersome and time consuming that may result in students not finding what is available for them. These students, an estimated population of Native American college students of 100,000 are affected by this large vast sea of information that is not organized into a central database location. 

What is your solution?

“The Center for Native American Scholarship and Internship” website will utilize a backend relational database system to allow for user to filter through opportunities relating to their college needs. Students will be able to search by major, student part-time/full-time status, GPA requirements, due dates, etc. Time and energy will be put forth in compiling the database, as of now, there is nearly two hundred scholarships and internships directly for native students from across the nation. Students from all over the country can easily see what summer fellowships or internships are available by native non-profits, universities, tribal businesses, and tribal nations. Once all this information is organized it can be upload to a backend database, when the front end (website) will be able to access this information. Also, enabling and sharing the solution is just as important to getting this web application established. Marketing and networking is key to the success of this proposed solution.  Marketing content will be created and distributed through educational channels of network.

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?

This project, when operational will reach into every tribal nation and schools across the Country. It is a unique solution that will directly assist many high school students, college students, Native American non-profit organizations, tribal universities, community colleges and main stream universities. These higher educational communities have created resources to help the next generations of leaders who are pursuing a college education and this website will further assist them. The Center for Native American Scholarship and Internships web application, will be the hub of resources that students and always uses throughout their years in college.

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

Support language and cultural revitalization, quality K-12 education, and support for first-generation college students

Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

As Native Americans in the modern era of society, educational communities strive to provide the resources that will allow students to find the opportunities to build their professional skills, knowledge and understanding. My proposed website directory solution solves the problem of a vast unstructured network of information, that first generations students have to navigate through. The solution will be another tool and resource that many educational institution can use, to promote their students educational desires.

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

Farmington, NM, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.

Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

I have selected this solution as in the prototype stage because I have began  the initial research of searching through, gathering, organizing and compiling this database. I am at the point where funding is need to build this prototype and to establish the organization that will spearhead this project across Indian country. Within a years time and with the awarded budget, building this prototype can be accomplished. 

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Dexter Dee

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Navajo Nation

Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?

More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

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

Describe what makes your solution innovative?

I have spend some considerable amount of time looking at many scholarship website and search engine types, only to discover that each directory listing is limited and does not display a large list. This solution is new and I believe, no one has presented a solution to this problem. The potential and profound impact it can have on Native American students, will create interest in the educational communities. 

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The technology I will be  using is quite simple, utilizing a relational database system. this database system allows user to store, access, update and organize information in table and columns and related them to one another. The structure needed for this application is key to bring structure and clarity to the information being presented. This software is already commercially available is a matter of combining it with modern website development.   

Provide evidence that this technology works. Please cite your sources.

Search engines for scholarships are well established across the internet.  

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Big Data

Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?

The major risk I see is sharing scholarships information and the possibility of having the information misinterpret and displayed. to address this issue, contacting these organizations will be important and making sure it is ok to add them to the directory. 

What is your theory of change?

In order to implement the solution, I am proposing, I need to have a model that will serve as the stem of this project. My definition of theory of change can be translated to Native American's views of life. I see this project in the form of a plant, the thought of what I am proposing is the seed that I have planted some time ago. As I continue to invest my time, effort and energy into making this project into reality, I am essentially watering this seed that will sprout above ground soon and grow into a plant. That is when the fruits of labor could be harvested and the benefits of the work put forth, can help anyone who seeks to better their lives. In our Navajo culture, we call this knowledge the “cornstalk philosophy”. I intend to use this knowledge as the basis of what I intend to create. 

Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Rural
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education

In which state(s) will you be operating within the next year?

  • Arizona
  • New Mexico

In which state(s) do you currently operate?

  • New Mexico

How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Currently the project serves zero people, it is my goal to get 4,000 students aware of this website within a year time. in five years time, I envision the website being the premier search engine across tribal nations. 

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

My impact goal for next year is to allow student to have a resource where they and easily find opportunities and begin applying for them. Students will benefit because the time they save from searching, will allow them to apply for more opportunities. Also, first generation students that have decided to further their educations dreams will have a platform to starting finding the financial support they need to get started. this impact is greatly needed and will improve application rates across many well established scholarship providers. 

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

There is a way to count website user that visit a page. I would keep a daily and monthly count of visitors and track the trend with marking efforts. Another way to measure progress is to work with scholarship providers and see it application rates improve over time.   

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

There are several barriers at the start before this project becomes online and operational. The first item funds would be use is to create the back end database structure. There needs to be a commercial grade relational database management system in place that the information could be stored.  In order to display and structure the information, I would hire and consult with a professional IT personale that could help guide me in selecting the proper management system for this project’s operations. Once that has been determined, the selected software could be purchased and the process of inputting the web content could start. Several task items such as creating the layout, user interface and website page content will need to be finalized prior to finding a website developer to build the website. This work will take time and weeks to develop the backend and front end of the website. With given resources from MIT Solve, I believe this initial work can be completed within a years time and that is my goal. In the following years to come, I intent to improve the product, upgrade the website and find additional sources of income to support this project. 

How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

Overcoming the financial barrier to start this project requires me to continuing applying for grants and opportunities to fund this project. For the technical aspect of the project, I continue to research and learn up on database systems, types, uses and applications. 

About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Not registered as any organization

How many people work on your solution team?

Currently I am the solve leader of the team. I hope to garner more support and interest that will attract more leaders to join this effort.

How long have you been working on your solution?

Since 2019

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

My greatest asset that positions me to complete this project, hinges on the fact that I refuse to give up and to think that somebody else will eventually discover this solution. Looking back at my educational journey I did not have all the opportunities before me, I had to learn how to navigate through the college experience without many resources. Now I see the gap of what is missing, and I see the success by incorporating indigenous systems of thinking and planning into this resource. The creation of the “Native American Scholarship Search Engine” will serve as a platform that could be utilized by high school students, undergraduates, graduates, returning students, teachers, advisors, professors and many other leaders in higher education. As I continue to lay the foundation for this work by developing, building and programming this project, I would like to share this information because it is undeveloped work and would greatly benefits native students across all nations. In conclusion, the opportunity to create this project and see the profound impact it can have, motivates and drives me to go forward.

What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

I hope to foster the creation of a regional non-profit group, that establishes a mission with this project and further its development. As the project develops, I believe it will attract leaders who wish to contribute and be apart of the team. 

Your Business Model & Partnerships

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

Organizations (B2B)
Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

I am applying for MIT Solve because it would be a great opportunity to establish the ground work of my solution. From that point I will have a platform to raise more support.

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

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)

Please explain in more detail here.

I need partners and supports to further justify the business model type, and to assist in understanding the technical routes to take to get the project going. 

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

I am open to anyone who's willing to contribute. 

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI For Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Solution Team

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