Free COVID-19 vaccinations, tests provided at San Carlos Apache tribal locations through ASU partnership

Equality Health Foundation, Help Families in Need assisted in testing, vaccinations, distributing food boxes to families and backpacks for kids

December 7, 2021

Dozens of members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe received free COVID-19 vaccinations and testing this fall through a partnership with Arizona State University.

Tribal residents received the vaccines and tests in several locations on the San Carlos Apache reservation on multiple dates in October and November through the efforts of ASU’s Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) and Global Center for Applied Health Research (GCAHR); Equality Health Foundation and Help Families in Need; and the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Health and Human Services. Vaccines were coordinated by the tribal Department of Health and Human Services through San Carlos Apache Health Corporation, a local hospital. Illustration of a virus next to a photo of a hand holding a needle. Photo courtesy of Pixabay Download Full Image

The team’s visits resulted in administering 85 vaccinations and more than 150 saliva-based tests developed by the ASU Biodesign Institute. Tribal residents also received a limited number of food boxes and backpacks for children, said GCAHR Project Coordinator Shannon Bentley.

SIRC and GCAHR are both based at ASU’s School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

The San Carlos Apache Tribal Council approved the partnership in September after ASU researchers presented a vaccination and testing plan the previous month. More than 10,000 tribal members live on the reservation, which spans 1.8 million acres over three counties in eastern Arizona, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations initiative of the National Institutes of Health is funding the project’s testing, wraparound services, public health awareness and evaluation components. Community and governmental partners sponsor the vaccination program.

Since November 2020, the grant has supported bringing testing to often difficult-to-reach residents of several underserved Arizona communities. According to GCAHR, many of those tested through the initiative did not have an email address and would not have been able to have access to state-run testing sites. Community health workers have often delivered test results by phone or in person in these areas.

The partnership between the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Equality Health Foundation and ASU provided a unique opportunity to tribal members, said David Reede, executive director of the tribal Department of Health and Human Services.

“Like many communities, our residents have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and with the tribe’s aggressive mitigation efforts, testing has been big in our community,” Reede said. “A lot of our tribal members are not keen on having a nasal swab, and because of the partnership between us, we have been able to offer saliva-based testing.”

The partners’ efforts have greatly benefited the community, Reede said.

“Working with the Equality Health Foundation, we were able to provide food boxes and backpacks to those who wanted to take advantage of the saliva-based testing,” he said.

Jacob Moore, ASU associate vice president for tribal relations, noted that the COVID-19 vaccines-and-testing partnership is part of a relationship dating back to at least 2014, when the tribe and the university created a memorandum of understanding.

"The San Carlos Apache Tribe and Arizona State University entered into a broad memorandum of understanding in 2014 to find ways to collaborate with each other. The relationship with the San Carlos Apache Tribe, based on mutual trust, aligns with ASU’s charter that includes 'assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves,’” Moore said. “This COVID pandemic response collaborative is a prime example of the type of work that breathes life into this commitment.

“The ASU Global Center for Applied Health Research and Equality Health Foundation have been profoundly effective in assisting tribal nations to mitigate COVID-19 adverse impacts, in a culturally responsive way, and stands ready to respond to future opportunities with other tribes, as well,” Moore said.

Regents Professor Flavio Marsiglia of the School of Social Work is GCAHR’s director and principal investigator of the COVID-19 project. He said that working with the tribe was an honor for him and the center staff.

“We appreciate the warm welcome our team has received from the tribal leadership, staff and the community at large,” Marsiglia said. “We look forward to a lasting partnership.”

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


image title

Alumni, student entrepreneurs win investment cash at Demo Day

Demo Day funding brings tears of joy to ASU student, alumni entrepreneurs.
December 7, 2021

Venture Devils competition returns to in-person pitching at SkySong

Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems, and Arizona State University student Jordan Fourcher won $15,000 on Friday for his solution to a common problem in Arizona — overheated mobile phones.

Fourcher, who is majoring in technological entrepreneurship and management, won the funding in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Demo Day pitch event.

His company, Fourcher Technologies — which previously won $15,000 at the spring Demo Day — specializes in thermal-management solutions for mobile electronics.

“How many of you ever had your phones overheat? I thought, ‘How do we fix that?’” he asked the crowd during the awards celebration at SkySong on Friday night.

“Right now I’m working on a wireless charger that actively cools your phone, and I’m also working on a phone case that gets colder without electricity.”

Fourcher Technologies was one of more than 75 Venture Devils startups that pitched at Demo Day on Friday. Venture Devils is a program to support ASU students, staff, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs within the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. More than $192,000 was awarded in eight funding tracks. Venture Devils teams also get access to mentorship and space.

Demo Day is held every semester on the last day of classes, and Friday’s pitch event was the first to be in person since fall 2019 — although the awards event also was livestreamed. Fourcher was among many Venture Devils founders who were pitching in person to judges and an audience for the first time instead of submitting a pitch video.

“When I first walked into the building, I told the judges I wasn’t nervous, I was ecstatic,” he said. “I felt like I was at Disneyland!”

Overall, $90,000 was awarded to sports-related ventures.

Charlotte Bowens wept tears of joy when her name was announced for winning $10,000 in the Global Sport Institute Venture Challenge. Bowens founded Conscious Gear, a line of outdoor-activity clothing for larger-sized people.

“My business is really my passion,” said Bowens, a graduate student in the Innovation and Venture Development degree program and a staff member at ASU.

“It’s really about ensuring that bigger-bodied folk can be in the outdoor space and have the outerwear and gear that they need to be endurance athletes or just get out onto the hiking trails.”

The top winner in the Global Sport Institute funding track was Timeout, an app created by Maya McClendon, a star on the Sun Devils volleyball team before she graduated in 2017. She won $15,000 for the app, which creates a personalized mental health program for athletes and connects them to resources.

Also winning funding was Get Gifted, a venture co-founded by MBA student Michael Matus, who plays football for the Sun Devils. The app connects student-athletes to local businesses for brand deals, now allowed under the new Name, Image and Likeness policy by the NCAA. Get Gifted won $5,000.

There were two new funding tracks this semester: Venture Devils Pay It Forward and the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge.

Venture Devils Pay It Forward awarded $20,000, with $10,000 coming from Mat Sherman, a 2016 ASU alum. His donation was matched by the Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute.

“I never thought I would be in this position of not accepting a check but giving a check,” said Sherman, who won funding at Demo Day three years ago for his startup Publoft.

“I think there’s an important obligation for founders who get money at Venture Devils that build important companies to stay in Arizona and to give money to programs that build the ecosystem.”

Four ventures won money from Pay It Forward:

  • Bradley Willett, a 2018 graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business, won $10,000 for ScripGuard, a locking device intended to prevent prescription medication abuse.
  • Three alumni — Parker Barr, Tesher Cohen and Kyle DeSousa — won $5,000 for their app Koko Ni, which caregivers can use to monitor elderly loved ones.
  • Abigael Omijie, a native of Nigeria who is pursuing an MBA at ASU, won $2,500 for her venture, Pot Heads Tea, a loose-leaf tea company.
  • Michael Wang, who graduated from ASU last spring with a degree in finance and computer information systems, won $2,500 for his venture PeerSquared, a peer-tutoring platform.

Twelve ventures pitched to team executives in the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge on Thursday, and the winners were announced at the awards ceremony Friday night. Xavier Gutierrez, president and CEO of the Coyotes, appeared via Zoom from his suite at Gila River Arena in Glendale right before game time.

“I’m really excited about this effort to partner with ASU and the Global Sport Institute, and this was very exciting for us,” Gutierrez said. “A key part of our business plan is around innovation and being top-of-mind and best-in-class partners for entrepreneurs.”

The winning ventures were Suji, a Scotland-based venture that makes a compression-training system, which won $30,000; Train Fitness AI, a Canadian venture that created a rep-counting app for Apple Watches, which won $20,000; and Adapt the Game, an app to improve the game-day experience for fans with disabilities, developed by Victor Ocando, a Tempe resident who uses a wheelchair and participates in Devils Adapt. Adapt the Game won $10,000.

Other funding winners were:

Top photo: Charlotte Bowens cried tears of joy after she won $10,000 for her startup Concious Gear, which makes outdoor apparel for larger-sized people. Bowens is a graduate student and a staff member at ASU and won the investment at Demo Day, held Friday at SkySong and sponsored by the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News