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Bill Aims to Reduce Poverty In Native Communities

January 18, 2019, 9:57 AM HST · Updated January 18, 9:57 AM
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US Senator Brian Schatz (D) of Hawai‘i joined his colleague Lisa Murkowski (R) from Alaska today in introducing the Native American Millennium Challenge Demonstration Act.

This legislation creates a domestic pilot project, based on the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which promotes sustainable economic growth and creates efforts to reduce poverty in remote Native American and Native Hawaiian communities in a manner that encourages self-determination and self-sufficiency.

The Native American Millennium Challenge Demonstration Act authorizes $9 million for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2025.

MCC is a bilateral US Foreign aid agency, established by Congress in 2004, which provides time-limited grants promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions. The success of MCC in developing nations serves as a model for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities that continue to face challenges with disproportionately high rates of unemployment, poverty, poor health, and substandard housing.

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“The Millennium Challenge Corporation has shown us a model for growing economies in a way that empowers local communities. This bill would allow us to bring that model to Hawai‘i and provide resources for the Native Hawaiian community to develop programs that help reduce poverty and improve people’s lives,” said Senator Schatz.

“We know that throughout history, the ingenuity of the Alaska Native people has enabled them to not only survive, but to thrive for centuries in one of the harshest, most unforgiving environments. It is that ingenuity that will enable them to harness the private market, to raise the standard of living and the overall well-being of those living in rural Alaska,” said Senator Murkowski. “Our legislation provides significant support through authorizing grants which will allow us to take a step towards changing the economic landscape in rural Alaska and mapping the economic future of Alaska Native communities by merging culture with development.”

Grants will be awarded to eligible entities for the purposes of:

  • Promoting economic growth and the elimination of poverty;
  • Strengthening good governance, entrepreneurship, and investment in Native American communities;
  • Building the capacity of Native people to grow sustainable local economies;
  • Improving the effectiveness of federal economic development assistance by encouraging the integration and coordination of the assistance in remote Native American communities;
  • Promoting sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction policies in remote Native American communities in a manner that promotes self-determination and self-sufficiency while preserving the cultural values of those communities;
  • Establishing a demonstration project within remote areas of noncontiguous states that experience high levels of poverty and lack access to traditional transportation infrastructure (highways, railways, and ports).
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