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.

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Reflections of an Adventurous First Nations Supporter

Florida resident Jenifer Marx has lived a life most people only dream of. The author of historical books on pirates, gold, and shipwrecks once traveled the world to exotic lands with her three daughters and husband, Robert F. Marx, a renowned underwater archaeologist. Now 84, her advice for a long, happy life? “Stay curious about the world.”

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First Nations' Donors Sojourn to the Southwest

Santa Fe and Alburquerque, New Mexico, served as the scenic and cultural backdrops for the Southwest Sojourn Tour ― the fourth tour since the program launched in 2015. Nine enthusiastic supporters of First Nations got an up-close look at the important work happening in the Pueblos of Jemez, Pojoaque, Santo Clara, Tesuque, and Cochiti, and they met some valued First Nations’ grassroots community partners.


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Meet a Champion for Native Causes

Helen Hobart, 77, from Chico, California, grew up during the era of the Vietnam War, flower power, political protests, and the hippie peace movement. The world traveler has been a lifelong activist for many important causes, living a life dedicated to serving others and helping marginalized communities. Helen, a First Nations donor and Buddhist, is passionate about helping Native youth and advocating for climate justice.

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Monthly Donor Linda Waters: An Unwavering Advocate for Native Causes

Linda Waters, a retired mediator and conflict management specialist in Washington state, has been a longtime supporter of First Nations’ monthly giving program. She and her husband, Tedd Hansen, are passionate about supporting Native causes, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act.

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The Doctor Bringing Peace and Improved Health to the World

For more than 30 years, Dr. Norbert Goldfield has dedicated his life to making people all over the world healthier. The board-certified internist in Springfield, Massachusetts, is founder and executive director of Healing Across the Divides (HATD), the only nonprofit organization in the world whose mission is to “measurably improve the health of marginalized people living in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories via community-based interventions.”

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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.

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Committed to Helping Indigenous Populations

The Shift Network, an online transformational learning center, believes its educational programs and philanthropic work are intimately connected. To date, the company has donated to 85 charitable causes and has set aside two million shares of founding stock to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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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.

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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.

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