JTF support provides funds to hire a new staff member to develop a broadband business plan and federal funding application.
Grant Amount: $150,000
Native Renewables (NR) provides off-grid solar power to homes on Navajo and Hopi reservations where 15,000 families lack access to electricity, which is an essential prerequisite for internet access. While internet connectivity is lacking in rural coal-impacted communities across the country, Tribal communities from Montana to the Navajo Nation fare even worse. In the Navajo Nation, 90% have no access to the internet.
There are a lot of similarities between the skills needed for solar and internet service installation. Because of this, in addition to installing and training people to install solar, NR has been interested in installing and training people to install broadband. JTF funding and technical assistance will support the hiring of a new broadband staff member at Native Renewables to provide capacity for the organization. Over the next year, they will connect with organizations like Tribal Broadband Bootcamps to learn successful models from other Native Nations, build relationships with organizations doing broadband work with the Navajo and Hopi, and pilot different internet service technologies like satellite to provide better access for their staff who currently struggle to participate in meetings with available service. They will use lessons learned from this pilot to develop a business plan for how they can help close the digital divide in rural Indigenous communities.
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“Native Renewables has been closing the energy access gap over the last six years, and has an opportunity to also address the lack of internet access through this Broadband Pilot effort. The need for the internet is vital for our rural Indigenous communities for work, school, and growing economic development.”