NOTE: This Challenge is looking for Native innovators from within the United States and its territories.
As we start the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Native communities in the US have remained some of the most resilient despite being some of the most vulnerable due to historical and present-day institutionalized injustices. The pandemic not only created new challenges in tribal communities, as it did around the world, but it also exacerbated existing inequities ranging from health services to schooling, infrastructure, and beyond. In addition to unbroken generations of tribal leadership, there is still a great need for continued innovation and the revitalization of traditional practices to heal and strengthen communities.
Disruptions in services for youth and the elderly, coupled with crippling global supply chain shortages, have left family caregivers with little support trying to feed, educate, and nurture their families while maintaining their income. Moreover, the unprecedented levels of isolation and the inability to gather for traditional practices have increased the need for innovative mental health interventions and culturally-informed services for individuals of all ages. The food shortages and grid failures sweeping the country underscore the importance of sovereign food and energy for tribal communities. Finally, while not a solution itself, new and long overdue streams of government relief funding, including the American Rescue Plan Act, offer Indigenous entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to shape one of the largest investments in tribal communities in American history through innovative pursuits and community action.
The MIT Solve community is looking for eight technology-based solutions that help Native communities in the US thrive. To that end, Solve seeks solutions that:
Drive positive outcomes for Native learners of any or all ages while supporting culturally grounded educational opportunities on and/or off reservations.
Promote holistic and culturally informed mental or physical health programming for Native youth, elders, or families, including but not limited to, foster youth, veterans, and families with members who are disabled.
Strengthen sustainable energy sovereignty and support climate resilience initiatives by and for Indigenous peoples.
Support the creation, growth, and success of Native-owned businesses and promote workforce programs in tribal communities.
The Fellowship brief and its dimensions were drafted in consultation with Indigenous partners and community members.