New Traverse City Based Nonprofit Will Aid Native American Startups and Organizations

A while back I wrote about Kyle Anderson, a Traverse City man who made the decision to live on the road in a converted school bus otherwise known as a skoolie with his dog Maeve. He has been able to live life with so much freedom because of remote work due to his self-owned IT consulting business. When he’s not roaming the country by bus he’s back in Traverse City where he has a desk at 20Fathoms that serves as home base for work. As a Native American, the advancement of fellow Natives is important to him. When we first met he had ideas forming on ways he could help make an impact in the Native community. A year later he and Shiloh Slomsky partnered with 20Fathoms to launch Arrowhead Incubator, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Native Americans create social and economic opportunities.

Shiloh is a Native woman who has worked in philanthropy throughout the entirety of her career as a professor, consultant, and grant writer. She sat on the Board of Directors for OEDMI, the non-gaming economic development corporation for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, something she and Kyle could bond over.

“Both of us worked in tribal non-economic gaming. Kyle was over at [Grand Traverse Band] I was with OEDMI over in Petoskey, Little Traverse Bay so we both had that background, and then a mutual acquaintance said, ‘Hey you need to call Kyle Anderson.’”

After sharing a series of emails and phone calls, Shiloh and Kyle shaped Arrowhead Incubator. She drove down to Traverse City, and without ever meeting Kyle in person prior, together they pitched the idea to 20Fathoms.

“It was the smoothest pitch. It was our first time meeting, and literally, 45 minutes later we were pitching in front of the board of 20Fathoms. We just have this big picture dream and leaped,” she said.

Shiloh has the expertise and a strong track record with writing grants which helped Arrowhead land their first major grant; just over $200,000 from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), a federal program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With this first grant, they’ll help five Native people with startup needs and know-how get off the ground. Initially, Arrowhead was going to be focused on cultivating Native businesses and opportunities in regions of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, but they’ve already had Natives from across the country reach out to them.

“We’ve already had a grant with 20Fathoms to bring business training here to Michigan but also to take coding to New Mexico. So we partnered up with another nonprofit in New Mexico. We’re working together, sharing knowledge, sharing information. They have no coding [programs] out there. For these kids on the res, there’s not a lot there for them, there’s not a lot of opportunities. It’s an opportunity to get off the res if they choose to. It inspires them to go to college or inspires them to get more training. It just opens their eyes to the reality that there’s so much opportunity,” Shiloh said.

The floodgates have opened and Arrowhead Incubator is already receiving a flood of inquiries about how they can utilize it for their business, organization, start-up, an community. They’re open to assisting all Native folks who have a passion and a plan to navigate the murky waters of grants, entrepreneurship, employment, networking, and more.

“If you build it they will come. We’ve been getting phone calls from not just individuals but also tribal governments, portions, and entities of tribal governments are reaching out and saying, ‘We need help.’ The four pillars of Arrowhead are mentorship, mediation, entrepreneur training, and giving back to the community. So that means providing funding, providing startup funding, providing expertise, apprenticeships, and internships.”

Organizations that provide aid or advancement to Natives are also eligible to seek out Arrowhead Incubator for assistance.

“Right now there’s an organization that contacted us that’s not Native American and they wanted to look at grants. However, they serve Native American communities so we are open to helping them. It goes back to our pillars of tribal and non-tribal working meshing together and building community.”

And they’re just getting started. For information on how you can get involved with Arrowhead Incubator check out their website

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Categories: GTPulse