Thunder Valley CDC
What has been most instrumental to your progress?
One key component of our work is the individual success plans. By working with the participants in our workforce development program to understand how they define success and what their goals are, we were able to support them better and pull in additional resources for them when necessary. This was necessary for many of the participants who may be participate in their first job setting and were also juggling life hurdles outside of the program.
Another element of our work that has been essential is the creation of the Sustainable Homeownership Project (SHOP). By working with the partner organization in this collaborative we have been better coordinated in our efforts to teach about homeownership. Since homeownership is relatively new to many of the people we work with, there is a huge amount of education and mind set shift that needs to happen to successful qualify for a mortgage and take the leap to build a house. It has taken all the partners collaboratively working together with specific clients to provide them with the support and resources necessary to get to the point where they are building a home. An example is a young man who worked with the Lakota Federal Credit Union to improve his credit score, he then qualified for an Individual Development Account with Lakota Funds and is now in the TVCDC Self Help Program. This is a great example of the coordination we want to continue to see for more successful homeowners.
Key lessons learned
The key lesson we learned in all three aspects of this work (workforce development, homeowner development, and organization collaboration) is the immense amount of effort it takes to change mentalities on a large scale. This impacted the number of families we have been able to qualify for mortgages so far and how many homes we have been able to build. We did not reach our goal of 10, but have qualified 4 families and those homes are in the process of being built. We also have work to do still in the placement of our workforce development participants. During the grant term we were able to learn this information early on which has been essential for us to realize that we needed to take time and build the foundation for these systems changes to happen. This means working many hours one on one with families each step of the way to share information with them and help them through the process. This means continuing to create opportunities for our workforce participants and leaving the door open for when they are ready to take advantage of the opportunities. And it means working to build trust and a shared vision between organizations over years instead of working in silos.
Reflections on the community innovation process
Working collaboratively was the most important piece of completing our work. By working with our partner organization through SHOP we were able to create the foundation for a more effective and growing homeownership system on the reservation. Also, outside of just this grant and project, we were able to work with one another to show that it is possible to work outside of silos and leverage each others organizations to work towards shared goals of economic impact on the reservation.
Progress toward an innovation
We have made progress towards creating a multifacted system to economic development through homeownership. This is a huge breakthrough as it is a community developed system to teach skills to young adults who have an opportunity for employment through the construction of homes. In order to construct homes we need families ready to buy the home, which SHOP is working tirelessly to get families prepared for homeownership and explaining every step of the way. This in turn keeps more earners in the community since they can own a home on the reservation instead of community. It also creates a healthier community through addressing the shortage of homes on the reservation. We believe that we have created the foundation for this reality and have had two years of learning so that we can move forward and improve this process.
What it will take to reach an innovation?