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Tech giant Google’s philanthropic foundation, Google.org, has awarded $2 million in grant funding to three Native-serving tech organizations in support of their work.

Google.org announced the awards in a Monday blog post, pointing to the “digital divide” between many tribal nations and the wider country in terms of technical literacy and access to technology. Each of the awards was meant to “provide Native communities with the infrastructure and skills needed to secure, and advance, their capacity to meaningfully participate in the digital economy,” Brittany Schulman, a member of the Waccamaw Sioux nation and senior vice president of programs at Native Americans in Philanthropy, wrote on the blog post. 

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“The federal government has made an unprecedented investment in broadband across the U.S. However, without information, support and trust, those who could benefit most from this investment — rural and tribal communities — are at the greatest risk of missing out on it,” Schulman wrote. “Since 2022, [Native Americans in Philanthropy has] been working with Google.org to explore how philanthropic organizations can better serve the needs of Indigenous communities.”

Individual awards were not disclosed, though Google did provide a summary of the three supported organizations and their associated projects:

  • The American Indian Science and Engineering Society, or AISES, will receive money to provide infrastructure support to tribal colleges and universities.
  • IndigiGenius, a Spokane-based tech nonprofit, will train more than 600 Indigenous youth and 60 educators in “culturally relevant coding and AI curricula.”
  • Albuquerque-based media company Native Realities will launch a community of practice based around sustainable technology plans and culturally holistic strategies. 

This support follows Google.org’s previous donation of $10 million to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, which launched efforts to provide literacy and inclusion training to Native communities on the cusp of being brought online through a surge of federal and state support for tribal broadband projects. 

These donations come amid a broader push to include Native Americans in the digital economy with jobs in the technology sector — one of the fastest-growing career sectors in the United States, per prior reporting by Tribal Business News. It’s a wide gulf to cross, though. A report by AISES and fellow tech nonprofit The Kapor Foundation found large barriers to technology access and careers in Native communities from K-12-age children and up.

“It’s investments like these that center our peoples, and ensure that Indigenous communities have the tools they need to build a future rooted in Indigenous values,” Schulman writes.

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About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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