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Catapult Design receives NEA grant to host social innovation competition

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $25,000 to Catapult Design to host a social innovation competition on the Navajo Nation. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from Catapult Design offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”


“Our first project on the Navajo Nation was funded by NEA four years ago and the momentum has continued to build there with our local partners. We are thrilled at the opportunity to continue supporting Navajo entrepreneurs who are committed to positive social change in their community,” says Catapult Design CEO, Heather Fleming.

Catapult Design’s grant will support the activities to develop and launch a search for promising ideas from Native American entrepreneurs in the Southwest that address one of the many social challenges that persist on tribal lands. For example, on the Navajo Nation where Catapult Design co-hosts Change Labs, an annual design and innovation event for Native American entrepreneurs, nearly half of the population still lacks modern plumbing and water access in their home. Less than 20% of roads are paved, making transportation and communication challenging. Similarly, almost 20% of homes are not connected to the grid. Beyond utility access, the Navajo Nation has struggled with a nearly 50% unemployment rate over the past decade. The largely informal economy thrives in local flea markets and in aging roadside stalls.

“There’s an opportunity to leverage technology and new business models that have been tried and tested in parallel markets and try them here on our own tribal lands,” says Fleming, who is also a member of the Navajo Nation. “Catapult Design wants to find folks who have these ideas and support them with local incubation services, some funding, and support from Catapult Design to test their idea in the local communities. We have to get the momentum going.”

Catapult Design will kick off the project in July 2016. Keep posted to our newsletter and website to learn more about how to participate. To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring16. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to

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