Our mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. We invest in and create innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.
With the support of individuals, foundations, corporate and tribal donors, First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through technical assistance & training, advocacy & policy, and direct financial grants in six key areas:
* Achieving Native Financial Empowerment
* Investing in Native Youth
* Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions
* Advancing Household & Community Asset-Building Strategies
* Nourishing Native Foods & Health
* Stewarding Native Lands
First Nations Development Institute is a 41-year-old organization that was created by and is managed by Native American professionals. The organization is headquartered in Longmont, Colorado, and serves tribal nations and Native communities throughout the country. The organization is the largest American Indian economic rights organization in the U.S. Over its history, it has educated and supported hundreds of Native communities by providing the training tools, program models and financial resources required for creating, strengthening and retaining community-based Native nonprofit and tribal organizations.
Our core belief is that only solutions provided by Native peoples, for Native people, and defined within their own development strategies and cultural values, will succeed. In harmony with this philosophy, we work with Native communities where we are welcomed and invited - ensuring that our assistance will help projects move forward and be implemented in accordance with Native community values and priorities.
First Nations began its national grantmaking program in 1993. Through mid-year 2021, we have successfully managed 2,276 grants totaling $46 million to Native American projects and organizations in 42 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territory American Samoa.
In response to COVID-19, First Nations is distributing support and grants to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities to minimize the risk of Native communities becoming collateral damage. As of November 2021, $4,979,608 in immediate and swift emergency funds have been awarded to select Native nations and Native-led organizations (including in Alaska and Hawaii) to support human services, response and relief efforts.
"Your support has provided significant assistance to us, allowing us to access more tools, develop more resources, as well as connect and reach out to our students to ensure their wellbeing and learning experience are at the highest level during this pandemic."
Isabel Stadnick, Lakota Waldorf School
"We're been able to do so more than we thought, and First Nations has been so generous and helpful. We're taking baby steps moving forward, but there's more on the horizon, and with their support, we know we can get there."
- Eileen O'Keefe-Dakota Wicohan Tawokaga Art Program Director
"Turning Heart is grateful for the support of the Yuchi community and First Nations in advancing the project's efforts. They understand the importance of our language and the strength of our people, We're up against the clock, but we're not going to let it die on our watch."
-Halay Turning Heart, Project Administrator for the Yuchi Language Project
"I'd like to thank First Nations for providing the know-how and the tools necessary for the progression of our business," says Hawaii farmer Mālie Colleado. "Many farmers who are passionate about what they do lack the knowledge on the financial end and the business end. This training boosted our progression to success. And for that I say Mahalo Nui!"
- Mālie Colleado-Hawaii Farmer
"Our job is to foster economic development, and tourism is the number two industry in South Dakota," says Ivan. "Now the program has laid the groundwork to pursue new opportunities for art as an economic driver...First Nations helped PRACC understand how to dig deeper with the artist community and engage tourism. It helped us open our eyes to what is possible. What can we build on? And what can expand and increase?
The structure of the grant is focused on art, But economics was a byproduct. The grant helped us marry those two together."
- Ivan Sorbel-Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce Executive DIrector
"Thank you very much from the Indigenous Regeneration team! We couldn't be more grateful that you took a risk and gave our nonprofit their first funds to create this project! Your faith in us led to us ending the year at $129k with an additional $106k three-year contract with NRCS. We are hiring three people from our reservation this year and are so thankful to all of you guys for everything! Mata'yuum exists because of you! We hope very much to work with you more in the future."
- Eyay Ahan!-Indigenous ReGeneration (San Pasqual Reservation, California)
"The work wouldn't be as prevalent or as strong without the support of First Nations, and it's not just due to the funding, but to the relationships built with the folks within the organization. First Nations brings people together to feed off each other - to think, to partner. At First Nations' gatherings you're able to cross-pollinate with others, which reminds you that you're not alone."
- Valerie Segrest, Traditional Foods and Medicines Program Manager, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
"The funding provided through the Native Arts Initiative allowed NACA to expand upon the number of Native American artisans who can participate within our Oak Creek Overlook program. This program provides a unique opportunity for Native Americans to enhance their economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneur spirit. Above all, families involved with the program have gained economic empowerment and pride in themselves over the past many years, passing the opportunity along to the next generations."
- Native Americans for Community Action, Inc.
"Thank you to First Nations Development Institute for hosting a wonderful tour of the Southwest exploring the culture and traditions of the Pueblo Peoples in New Mexico. Representatives from San Manuel were able to attend and witness the great work being done to preserve and advance Native American tribes and culture...This was a personal fulfilling trip that left them feeling inspired and dedicated to giving back to tribes across the United States.
- San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Facebook Post)
"Thanks to the First Nations Development Institute for a wonderful "Business of Indian Agriculture/Food Sovereignty" training seminar. We have some great ideas to bring back to the San Pasqual Reservation! We're excited to be able to teach these concepts as well. - Indigenous ReGeneration"
"Thank you and your donors for funding the Native Arts Initiative grant for Hopitutuqaiki, The Hopi School. This grant will enable The Hopi School to move to the next level in its development. The school has provided Summer Arts Programs for 14 years and is now ready to move to the next step in its mission to develop and implement an educational program that is derived from the Hopi people, as compared to the present educational program that is imposed from an outside culture."
- Hopitutuqaiki, The Hopi School
"Dear First Nations,
Thank you for your generous support of Chugach Regional Resource Commission's (CRRC) food assessment endeavors. Thanks to First Nations, the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, and the NoVo Foundation, CRRC is in the midst of understanding the issue of changing diets and disappearing traditional foods in our region".
- Chugach Regional Resource Commission
"Dear Mr. Roberts,
Thank you! Because of you, we can continue toward the development of sustainable, healthy, culturally and eco-sensitive community and economic projects for the Aaniiih and Nakoda Nations to ensure self-sufficience of future generations. We are so honored and privileged to have you as a donor and thank you for investing in our organization and in the communities we serve on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. Your generous gift will go to good use."
- Fort Belknap Community Economic Development Corporation
"Dear Friends at First Nations Development Institute,
On behalf of FAST Blackfeet, THANK YOU!
Your generous funding of $10,000 allows us to continue our food security and food sovereignty work. The grant...is making it possible for us to determine areas of need on the Blackfeet Reservation and the best ways to address them in our communities." -
FAST Blackfeet (Food Access and Sustainability Team)
"The fourth consecutive year of a 4-Star rating is well-deserved. This rating is essential to me and many others when we evaluate organizations to support. I have had up-close and personal contact with First Nations and the recipients of its grants…Without question Native peoples are receiving great benefit from First Nations' work."
- First Nations Donor
"The Charity Navigator rating was a large factor in my initial support of First Nations, but I've been doubly impressed by the people within the organization itself. They are smart, thorough, dedicated and deeply committed to the mission. I am proud to be a contributor to this organization".
- First Nations Donor