Representatives from the Native American Youth and Family Center (Portland, Oregon), Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties (Buffalo, New York), Little Earth of United Tribes (Minneapolis, Minnesota), the Chief Seattle Club and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) (both in Seattle, Washington) met in Denver, Colorado, Oct. 20-21, 2015, to tap into the experience of nonprofit leaders, as part of First Nations Development Institute’s “Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions” focus area and, specifically, the Urban Native Project.
Through a series of cohort meetings, participants utilize diverse areas of learning, build their professional networks, and gain valuable insights by talking with peers about the ways they have tackled particular challenges at their organizations. These meetings are sponsored by the Comcast Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. The meetings enable leaders to step back from the pressures of their jobs and to look at the big picture, learn new skills, strategize policy or action, leverage opportunities, and reflect on the unique perspectives of their organizations and their programs.
First Nations Senior Program Officer Montoya Whiteman and NUIFC Executive Director Janeen Comenote head up the Urban Native Project, which is a joint effort between First Nations and NUIFC.
Separately, on Nov. 9, 2015, the two organizations announced the newly-selected grantees for the 2015-2016 cycle, which is the third year of the Urban Native Project. Under the effort, First Nations and NUIFC, as partners, are working to build the capacity and effectiveness of American Indian and/or Alaska Native nonprofit organizations by providing project funding, training and technical assistance.
The project is made possible through a grant made to First Nations by The Kresge Foundation. It aims to help organizations that work with some of the estimated 78 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives who live off reservations or away from tribal villages, and who reflect some of the most disproportionately low social and economic standards in the urban areas in which they reside. Urban Indian organizations are an important support to Native families and individuals, providing cultural linkages as well as a hub for accessing essential human services.
The four projects selected for the 2015-2016 period are:
- American Indian Child Resource Center, Oakland, California, $40,000, for the “Positive American Indian Directions” (PAID) program, which is an asset-building and self-sufficiency effort for urban Native youth. The target population is “disconnected” (out-of-school, out-of-work, and not served by any other agency) Native youth living in Oakland and surrounding areas, ages 14-21.
- American Indian OIC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $40,000, for the “Integrated Community Placement Project” that seeks to reduce unemployment for the Native community living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area by training students for specific occupations such as web designer/developer, computer support specialist, and administrative professional, and providing related apprenticeships in the agency’s own social enterprises.
- Hawaiian Community Assets, Inc., Honolulu, Hawaii, $40,000, for the “Building Stability in Housing” project. The goal of the Building Stability in Housing project is to establish an integrated asset-building system within five Native Hawaiian-controlled nonprofit organizations and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that will increase access to affordable housing for Native Hawaiians residing in urban trust lands.
- Little Earth of United Tribes, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $20,000, for a project to reform its corporate and governance structure in order to better support its mission through asset-based community development. By developing board and governance policies and improving its organizational structure, Little Earth intends to encourage the growth and expansion of the organization in a coordinated and integrated manner.