For the first time, The Opportunity Project (TOP) recently focused its efforts solely on improving access to funding for indigenous communities, more than a quarter of whom live in poverty.
“These products provide Indigenous thought leaders, economic development practitioners, and private and public funders data-driven, human-centered tools to thoughtfully deploy capital in Indigenous communities.”
– Thomas Hitz, management and program analyst in
EDA’s Performance, Research and
National Technical Assistance Division.
In partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), TOP teams used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies and worked over the course of 12 weeks to come up with ways to funnel more capital and investment to Indigenous communities and improve their representation in federal datasets.
Each year, TOP collaborates closely with federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify pressing challenges facing communities across the United States that can benefit from new, accessible data-driven tools.
This TOP challenge was a timely one. According to a 2019 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) survey [PDF 2.2 MB], more than a quarter of American Indian and Alaska Natives live in poverty and almost a fifth do not have any type of checking or savings account.
TOP initiatives including this challenge will be presented at the Census Open Innovation Summit 2024 January 17 to January 19. TOP brings together government, technologists and community groups to rapidly prototype digital products using federal open data. In this sprint, teams had the opportunity to work alongside leaders from Indigenous communities to create solutions. Many focused on Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) key to increasing access to capital, credit and financial services in these communities.
Some of the tools the teams created:
“These products provide Indigenous thought leaders, economic development practitioners, and private and public funders data-driven, human-centered tools to thoughtfully deploy capital in Indigenous communities,” said Thomas Hitz, a management and program analyst in EDA’s Performance, Research and National Technical Assistance Division.
To spotlight current discussions regarding open data initiatives and tribal data, Census Open Innovation Labs (COIL) is set to host a panel about the importance of Tribal Data Sovereignty January 18 at this year’s Census Open Innovation Summit 2024.
“The Census Bureau strives to prioritize the unique government-to-government relationship between the Census Bureau and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tribal governments,” said Dee Alexander, a tribal affairs coordinator at the Census Bureau. “So, it is wonderful to see how this Opportunity Project sprint enabled us to partner with and learn directly from Indigenous-led organizations and community experts that participated in the sprint.”
In addition to the EDA-led sprint, TOP tackled seven other challenges, including:
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