Donor Spotlights

Ever since receiving the first $25,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in 1980, First Nations Development Institute has partnered with a multitude of generous donors through the decades to help sustain and strengthen Native economies and communities across Indian Country.

Our donors all have their own special stories. The “why” behind their unwavering philanthropic support of Tribes and other Native-led organizations in areas such as food sovereignty, land stewardship, Tribal asset-building, language preservation and more.

It is with much gratitude to our donors and optimism for how our valued partnerships will continue to positively impact Indigenous communities that we shine a spotlight on these benefactors and feature their inspiring stories here.

Photo credit:


How a Colorado Herbalist is Growing Philanthropy

Emery Golson is a 31-year-old philanthropist, herbalist, wife, and mother of two living as a homesteader in Boulder, Colorado. She and her husband, Miles, started the Tumbleweed Fund to grow trust-based philanthropy in Colorado with seed money from her family’s philanthropic organization, the Sunderland Foundation.

Read Full Story

Committed to Helping Indigenous Populations: The Shift Network

The Shift Network, an online transformational learning center, believes its educational programs and philanthropic work are intimately connected. Both are designed to unleash each person’s full potential and create a healthy and harmonious world that works for all.

Read Full Story

Inspiring a More Just World: Michael Collins

For Michael Collins, the desire to support Indigenous causes started with a fascination with Native cultures as a young boy. Over the years, that fascination has transitioned from interest to dismay, as he’s reflected more and more on the education he received growing up in Massachusetts, a state steeped in false histories of Plymouth Rock and the Europeans’ first contact with Native Americans.

Read Full Story

Innovative Teen Turns Small Gifts Into Big Impact

When COVID-19 hit last year, Jacob Stein quickly learned about the damaging effects of the pandemic throughout the country and especially on Native communities. That’s when he reached out to First Nations and told us about his small-dollar approach to creating a big impact for nonprofits, while instilling a habit of philanthropy in young people like himself.

Read Full Story

Committed to Mission, Not Checking a Box

According to Revelry cofounder and CEO Brandon Stewart, the brand of Revelry boils down to authenticity. Just like the passions of the people running it, Revelry’s foundation is built on quality experiences with a love and appreciation for the natural world.

Read Full Story

From Personal Journey to Purpose: Update on Justin Way

In March 2021, First Nations highlighted the commitment and generosity of Justin Way in this profile piece. Since then, Justin has completed his month-long hike and provided us an update on his experience.

Read Full Story

Next-Gen Impact for Native Communities

When the pandemic shut down spring break plans for young philanthropists at Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland, they immediately searched for a way they could still have an impact. And the difference they wanted to make was for Native communities.



Read Full Story

A Business for Change

When the pandemic began, Acacia Overstreet, a 21-year-old student at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, wanted to do something to help. She realized that her favorite pastime – baking macarons – could be a fundraiser. The impact she wanted to make was clear: Support Native communities.

Read Full Story

Teens Donate Funds Where They See the Most Need

Eesha Neunaha and Liya Chen are classmates at The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, who work collaboratively on community service projects. Together, the high school sophomores raised $4,000 to support Native communities during the pandemic.

Read Full Story