MuralNet focuses on providing infrastructure and the legal, financial and educational resources so that Tribal Nations and affiliated organizations can build their own networks. Despite ongoing efforts to digitize education and move to online resources, nearly half of those living in rural communities in the US still lack broadband access. On tribal lands, the problem is even more acute with nearly two-thirds lacking access to adequate Internet. While many rural schools are being updated with fiber and modern computer equipment, many students cannot access those increasingly essential resources from home. This lack of off-campus access has been termed the “Homework Gap,” and the problem arguably creates a greater disadvantage for rural students than existed before the advent of digital education – which is why MuralNet seeks to provide Internet connectivity for Native Americans.
Mariel is the CEO of MuralNet, coordinating deployments, partnerships and policy advocacy efforts. She has taken part in every aspect of builds from applying for licenses and funding to staging and mounting equipment. As an engineer, educator and researcher, she has pushed innovation in STEM classrooms through project-based service learning for over a decade. Her work in online math curriculum proved how important access to Internet resources are for content as well as mindsets. Because of this, Mariel strives to make the Internet accessible for all students. Prior to her work in education, she designed and tested medical devices to treat strokes, recyclable replacements for polyurethane and more efficient methods of producing photo-chemicals at scale. Mariel earned two degrees in engineering at UC Berkeley and a Master’s at Stanford in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education.