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First Nations Awards $635,000 in Grant Funding to Help Native Communities on the Front Lines of COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on Native communities, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced it is directing $635,000 in immediate and swift emergency funds to 35 select Native nations and Native-led organizations to support response, relief, human services, organizational sustainability, and economic development efforts.

LONGMONT, Colorado (April 21, 2020) – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on Native communities, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced it is directing $635,000 in immediate and swift emergency funds to 35 select Native nations and Native-led organizations to support response, relief, human services, organizational sustainability, and economic development efforts. In addition to providing resources for Native communities, First Nations has helped coordinate water, food and personal protective equipment donations to Native communities.

First Nations recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing structural and institutional health and economic inequities for Native communities. As a result of these existing inequities, Native communities have immediate and urgent needs in response to COVID-19. Therefore, First Nations was able to issue immediate resources without Native communities having to submit applications or other kinds of requests for funding.

“Because of First Nations’ long history and effectiveness as a grant maker and our deep connectivity with grassroots Indian communities, we can play a key role in ensuring that philanthropic efforts reach Indian Country constituents, who are often invisible or an afterthought in times like these,” notes First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts. “With this fund, we can deliver grants quickly without creating an extra step for tribes and organizations when their resources are so badly needed elsewhere,” he says.

First Nations encourages other funders to forgo their traditional grant processes that can be burdensome to communities hardest hit by the current health pandemic and economic crisis, including Native communities that have experienced long-standing funding inequities. First Nations also encourages direct investments to Native nations and Native-controlled nonprofits as they continue to be among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 health pandemic and economic crisis.

Thus far, First Nations has targeted resources to Native nations and organizations actively combating COVID-19 outbreaks, providing economic relief, promoting health and wellness, or dealing with other important human services needs such as feeding community members and addressing food shortages that have resulted from the severe disruptions to food supply chains.

The initial 35 Native nations and organizations that received support include the following:

  • American Indian Community Housing Organization, Duluth, Minnesota
  • Center Pole, Garryowen, Montana
  • Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma
  • Chief Seattle Club, Seattle, Washington
  • Dine Be’lina Inc., Window Rock Arizona
  • Hopi Nation, Kykotsmovi, Arizona
  • Hopi School Kykotsmovi, Arizona
  • Intertribal Friendship House, Oakland, California
  • Leech Lake Nation, Cass Lake, Minnesota
  • Lower Sioux Indian Commnty, Morton, Minnesota
  • Lummi Nation (Lhaq’temish Foundation), Bellingham, Washington
  • Makah Cultural and Research Center, Neah Bay, Washington
  • Makah Tribe, Neah Bay, Washington
  • Minneapolis American Indian Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc., Lame Deer, Montana
  • Native American Youth and Family Center, Portland, Oregon
  • Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona
  • New Mexico Community Foundation Pueblo & Navajo Fund, New Mexico
  • Oyate Networking Project, Kyle, South Dakota
  • Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Kyle, South Dakota
  • Poeh Cultural Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Pueblo of Zia, Zia Pueblo, New Mexico
  • Red Lake Nation, Red Lake, Montana
  • San Felipe Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico
  • Spirit of the Sun, Denver, Colorado
  • Suquamish Tribe, Suquamish, Washington
  • Tananawit, Warm Springs, Oregon
  • Tsaile/Wheatfields Dineh Water Users, Tsaile, Arizona
  • Tulalip Foundation, Tulalip, Washington
  • United Houma Nation, Golden Meadow, Louisiana
  • United Indians for All Tribes Foundation, Seattle, Washington
  • White Earth Nation, Ogema, Minnesota
  • Yak Tityu Tityu Yak Tilhini Northern Chumash, San Luis Obispo, California
  • Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni, New Mexico

Get more information about First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and learn more about First Nations’ Coronavirus Resources for Native communities. If you have questions about First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, please email

First Nations will continue to make grants directly to communities, and 100% of donations to the Emergency Fund go directly to tribes and Native-led organizations. The First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is made possible thanks to the generous support of the following funders:

  • Calhoun/Christiano Family Fund of the Community Foundation for San Benito County
  • Ceres Trust
  • Ford Foundation
  • Globetrotter Foundation
  • Henry Luce Foundation
  • Nell Newman Foundation
  • Northwest Area Foundation
  • Philanthropiece
  • Swift Foundation
  • The California Endowment
  • The Schmidt Family Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • And numerous generous individual donors from across the U.S.

About First Nations Development Institute: For more than 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

Featured image courtesy First Nations Development Institute

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