Four Bands Community Fund
What has been most instrumental to your progress?
Project Management. Four Bands Community Fund has successfully implemented projects in the past and our experience has been instrumental in making progress on activities.
Proficient network of technical assistance providers. It was instrumental to have a proficient TA provider as we took on the job of producing a Labor Force Study/Workforce Development Report for all of Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. Sweet Grass Consulting, LLC has out-performed most of our technical assistance providers in their ability to capture context and produce precise reports. This is an important facet because we were able to save time by NOT having to explain context. They understood it and had the data readily available to draw from. Additionally, the Workin’ With Tradition trainers have been outstanding with adapting the curriculum to our local context. They have adhered to the training guidelines and have held our participants to high standards.
Key lessons learned
The major takeaway from the first year was understanding there is a spectrum for collaboration. We learned very quickly that tribal programs will quickly bow out of partnerships when a “budget” for partnership is laid on the table. At first, we viewed this as a failure. At the end of the first year, we learned we were approaching it wrong. From the tribal program perspective, it is not the contributing of money in the partnership that is difficult it is the process of getting that funding out of the Tribe’s accounting system that was problematic. Therefore, Four Bands learned its collaborative efforts with tribal programs can be increased when tribal programs can directly reimburse Four Bands for program/training expenses. For example, it’s hard for the tribal program to pay participants a stipend to attend training the day of the training because of the payment request process of the Tribe. Instead, it was much easier for FBCF to front the costs of each training for our partners and submit one invoice to the partner, which was then reimbursed by the Tribe.
Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving
Initially, we wanted the element of collaboration to be highlighted during this innovation process, and I think it has been. However, as I reflect, the first year has been more about the resourceful component. We have been able to leverage our accounting system as a strong community resource. Our community has the partners willing to do the work, they just need a more responsive accounting system to meet the immediacy demands of the clientele. In year 2, we are looking to strengthen the collaboration efforts by better understanding the spectrum of collaboration using the Wilder Inventory.
Other key elements of Community Innovation
The theory of change model really captures all the various phases of community innovation. A key element is capacity building. As we engage our partners, we are constantly learning and training one another.
Understanding the problem
The process has revealed that the work force is constantly evolving. It has also provided clarity on asking the right questions in order to provide the right services. For example, our work force survey allowed for people to self-rank their proficiency in specific skillsets. We have witnessed this self-ranking system to be an inaccurate portrayal of Cheyenne River’s workforce. We are trying to think of ways to get a more accurate picture of the skillsets available.
If you could do it all over again...
I would have advised us to create a sector strategy for a subset of the workforce. It would have been more manageable and been able to produce jobs immediately.