Karuk Tribe (California)
Through a strategic partnership with EnerTribe, Inc., I worked with the Karuk Tribe to develop and fund a Tribally-owned telecommunications company to bring high-speed broadband Internet to the rural, isolated community Orleans in Northern California. I worked with the Karuk Tribe through a partnership with EnerTribe, Inc. to take the Áan Chúupan High-Speed Broadband network from concept to reality.
Building a pathway to success in this case meant not just understanding the funding process but also knowing how to position the project as the best investment, while going head-to-head with well-established telecommunications giants. This was particularly challenging because at the time we were developing the action plan, the Tribal telecom company did not yet exist. This required building a solid business case and demonstrating that the Tribe had the skills, experience and business model necessary to ensure success. Achieving success for this project also required a team effort that brought in strategic partnerships and recognized industry experts.
Utilizing the framework we developed, we won a $1.1 million Community Connect grant award (the largest award that year and the only award made to a Tribal entity) offered through the USDA as well as nearly $7 million through the State of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)’s CASF (California Advanced Service Fund) program. As the project progressed, it was so well-executed that the Tribe was invited to apply for additional funding to expand the high-speed broadband network beyond the original footprint. Today, the Áan Chúupan High-Speed Broadband network is fully operational and growing at a steady pace.