Investing in Native Communities is Easy!


Did you know that only three-tenths of one percent of foundation funding goes to Native causes? Yet Native Americans represent over two percent of the population. Through First Nations Development Institute hopes to address this disparity by raising aNative Giving photowareness of and direct support for grassroots organizations in Native communities doing remarkable work. These organizations are developing solutions to ensure the health and well-being of our most valuable resource – our children.

We encourage you to visit to learn more about the featured organizations and then please make a generous donation. Fully 100 percent of your gift will go to the designated nonprofit of your choosing and more organizations are being added in the coming months. Making a difference is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4.


1. Choose a Cause – or Causes (
2. Make a Gift
3. Know You’re Making A Difference
4. Repeat the Good Deed and Feel Even Better

Kids and baby goatSitting Bull once said, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”

We hope you will help us do just that by making a gift today to one of these causes and help ensure the future of Native communities. is a project of First Nations and is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation under the foundation’s “Catalyzing Community Giving” initiative.

Campaign Update: Matching-Gift Challenge Met!

At the end of 2015, each of the organizations featured on participated in a $500 Matching-Gift Challenge with incentive awards for highest number of gifts and most funds raised. Created by and for Native people, this giving platform exists to raise awareness of the remarkable initiatives that are making a real difference in the lives of Native children and families at the grassroots level.

Each of the participating organizations worked very hard during the campaign to conduct local outreach in creative ways via social media, email marketing, peer-to-peer fundraising by staff members — and even a booth at a community market on Molokai!

We are delighted to report that all eight participating organizations met their goal of $500 during the Matching-Gift Challenge. Congratulations to STAR School, Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School, Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Oyate Teca Project, Sust’ainable Molokai, Tewa Women United, College of Menominee Nation, and Zuni Youth Enrichment Project!

The participating organizations received training in emarketing, peer-learning opportunities and received technical assistance to prepare for the campaign. “The help of everyone made this possible! Congratulations to everyone for taking risks and all the encouragement,” said Tewa Women United Executive Director Corrine Sanchez.

The cohort raised a total of $14,176 during the campaign period with a total of 201 gifts. With the matching-gift incentives, that’s a total of $20,176 to further the missions of these high-impact organizations!

The two incentive awards – one for the highest number of gifts and one for the most funds raised – went to:

  • Award for Highest Number of Gifts for the Matching Campaign: Tewa Women United (Española, New Mexico) with 84 gifts during the campaign. 
  • Award for Most Funds Raised for the Matching Campaign: Sust’ainable Molokai (Kaunakakai, Hawaii) raising $5,305. was developed by First Nations Development Institute to maximize its national influence and direct more investments to worthy nonprofits in Native America such as those featured on this site.

By Eileen Egan, First Nations Associate Director of Development & Senior Program Officer

Investing in Youth: Wichita & Affiliated’s SummerSmart Program

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) invests in Native youth and youth development through many different grant initiatives including the Native Youth and Culture Fund, Advancing Positive Paths for Native American Boys and Young Men, and the Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime Initiative, to name a few. Over the past 13 years we have served more than 5,000 youth in more than 200 Native communities across the United States.

For the past several years, First Nations has been a major supporter and fiscal sponsor of the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC). ONAC is now an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tribes and Native nonprofits in Oklahoma with information and assistance on asset-building strategies and opportunities.

In 2014, First Nations awarded ONAC $100,000 under the Ford Foundation’s Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime (BESOL) Initiative. ONAC utilized part of this grant to establish a mini-grant program that supports Native asset-building projects in Oklahoma. Through this program, ONAC awarded four $3,500 mini-grants to tribes and community based-organizations that promote family economic security.

The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes was included among these four inaugural grantees. The tribe used its $3,500 mini-grant to administer SummerSmart, an innovative youth program designed to increase knowledge of Wichita culture, language and life skills.

Last summer, 27 Native youth participated in SummerSmart. During this two-month program, Native youth attended cultural activities that emphasized Wichita culture, language and history. Additionally, they participated in health and nutrition workshops and sports-related activities such as archery, dodgeball and kickball.

Financial education is also major component of SummerSmart. Native youth received $5 per day (or $200 total) for participating in the program. They attended financial education workshops to learn how to manage their money and opened youth saving accounts to invest 10 percent of their summer earnings.

The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes’ SummerSmart Youth Program has been a tremendous success. More than 60 percent of participants have maintained their youth saving accounts, prompting project organizers to expand the two-month summer program into a regular after-school program.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that this mini-grant has brought to our children,” said Terri Parton, President of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. “If we can encourage even one child to continue to save in the future then we have made some progress and changed lives when it comes to financial responsibility.”

It is never too early to teach youth how to start saving or managing their money. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes SummerSmart Youth Program demonstrates that tribes and community-based organizations have the potential to positively shape and influence the financial futures of Native youth through innovative efforts that merge culture and financial education.

By Sarah Hernandez, First Nations Program Coordinator