First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently received a $250,000 grant from the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation in order to boost Native American youth-led entrepreneurship activities, which in turn and over time will significantly benefit tribal communities and other Native population centers, many of which suffer large economic disparities when compared to other communities.
For numerous years, First Nations and its independent subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta), which is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), have been assisting tribes and Native communities throughout the U.S. in conducting much-needed but culturally appropriate financial and investor education programs. Oweesta, in particular, also provides professional development services to strengthen other Native American-run CDFIs.
Under the new effort, First Nations will specifically focus on entrepreneurially minded Native American youth. First Nations will link these emerging youth entrepreneurs to accomplished mentors who will help them strategize their business models and develop formal business plans, which is a foundational step in launching a new enterprise. In conducting the project, First Nations will partner with CDFIs and other experienced business professionals to mentor youth finalist and serve as competition judges.
“Native youth are one key to sustaining and expanding the ongoing improvement and advancement of Native communities across the U.S.,” said Michael E. Roberts, First Nations President & CEO. “We believe this project will help boost overall economic development by potentially creating new businesses, more jobs, higher incomes and bringing broader opportunities to Native America, as well as fueling the entrepreneurial drive of kids in these communities.”