$6.5 Million in Grants Awarded to 427 Native Communities in 2020

First Nations Development Institute Releases Latest Impact Report Showing Increasing Support to Native Communities Throughout the Pandemic

LONGMONT, Colo. (May 18, 2021) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has released its annual Impact Report detailing highlights of 2020 and the organizations’ ongoing commitment to support Native resiliency and ingenuity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year was a troubling year for all Americans but it was especially hard for Native communities where longstanding inequities and lack of infrastructure made them even more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, First Nations launched the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund – a pooled rapid response grantmaking fund – and worked to release funds efficiently and swiftly to Native communities, getting $3.1 million in funds disbursed in 16 grant cycles in nine months.

In addition, the report documents that First Nations also provided $3.4 million in program grants to Native communities, mostly dispersed as general program support to help sustain programs through the pandemic, facilitated 89 technical assistance sessions, and released 15 publications geared toward policy and advocacy for Native communities.

According to First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts, this support is imperative as only 4/10th of one percent of funding invested by private foundations goes to Native causes. “Thus, grassroots initiatives led by and for Native people get left behind,” he said. “Our job at First Nations is to raise awareness of this need and get funding out quickly to Native communities, as they are the ones that are the best placed, the most informed, and the most creative in solving their own challenges.”

Other key takeaways of the 2020 Impact Report include:

  • First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund grants still require no applications and are dispersed as general operating support grants. This is important as 66% of Native nonprofit organizations report that they provide direct services to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In addition to the Emergency Response Fund grants, in 2020, First Nations also coordinated the donation of 17,749 pounds of food, 28,000 gallons of water, $335,670 in personal protective equipment. This was especially important during the early months of the pandemic when food, water and personal protective equipment shortages were a constant fear in some Native communities.
  • In 2020, First Nations again showed its commitment to transparency and accountability. For the ninth year in a row, First Nations received the highest rating of Four Stars from Charity Navigator. The 40-year-old organization again earned the Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency and was named an Accredited Member of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Support for Native communities is needed more than ever. Every year First Nations is only able to meet a small percentage of total requests and need in Native communities. Roberts said that these are all opportunities available for the philanthropic sector to invest in Native communities and support Native-led change.

The full Impact Report can be downloaded at More information about First Nations’ programs and projects in 2020 and today can be found at

About First Nations Development Institute
For 40 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit