Catapult receives grant to support entrepreneurial design event on the Navajo Nation

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National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced today that Catapult Design, a product and service design firm based in San Francisco, is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. Catapult Design’s grant will support the expansion of its design and innovation education program to the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

In 2012 Catapult Design hosted its first design event, Catapult Labs, in San Francisco with the goal of exposing attendees to new design tools and methods that spark and support positive social change.  With NEA funds, Catapult will host this event on the Navajo Nation in 2014.  The event will bring together designers and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and the Navajo Nation to build networks, activate communities, and spark entrepreneurial social innovation.

In 2010, the unemployment rate on the Navajo Nation – which crosses Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – spanned 40-70%, compared to 9.6% across the U.S.  Despite resource-rich land, the largest tribal landmass in the country, and a viable workforce of 180,500 people, the growth of Navajo small businesses is less than half the growth rate for the U.S.

By engaging local partners, such as the Rural Entrepreneurship Institute in New Mexico, Catapult will assemble Native American youth and budding entrepreneurs who want to turn their ideas into realized solutions for community and economic development on tribal lands.

“It’s an opportunity to cross-pollinate methods and ideas in one of the most entrepreneurially thriving places in the world – Silicon Valley – with one of the most entrepreneurially challenged places in the world – the Navajo Nation.  Innovation exists in both places through a completely different lens,” says Heather Fleming, CEO of Catapult Design who is also originally from the Navajo Nation. “We’re eager to help connect and support folks with big ideas for their community.”

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.”

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.