First Nations Announces New Grant Opportunity to Help California Tribes Face Challenges of COVID-19

LONGMONT, Colorado (October 15, 2020) – In response to the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on Indian Country, specifically in California, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced it will award up to 10 grants of $10,000 each to help California Native tribal organizations and nonprofits sustain and thrive through this challenging time.

The California Tribal Fund COVID-19 Response: Recovery & Resilience grant opportunity is designed to provide general operating support to California-based, California-Native-led nonprofits and tribal programs that currently work to support Indigenous control over food, water, languages, traditional ecological knowledge, and land within their respective tribal communities. California Native-led organizations that focus on projects and programs that promote long-term resilience and sustainability, along with recovery-based projects post COVID-19, are encouraged to apply.

According to California Tribal Fund Program Officer Rebecca Tortes, these grants are significant because only .01% of foundation giving goes to Native communities and causes in California, and yet California represents 12% of the total Native American population in the United States. Further, many grants made to Native-led organizations in California and throughout the country are not designed to cover general operating expenses.

“Too often philanthropic support is associated with specific programs and initiatives,” Tortes said. “But at many times – and especially during a crisis – what’s needed is funding to keep existing services in motion and keep organizations on track to fulfill their missions.”

The grant is made possible through First Nations’ California COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and administered through the newly launched California Tribal Fund, which was created to address both the unique circumstances of California Native communities and the lack of philanthropic support for California Native causes. The fund is sponsored by The California Endowment, Swift Foundation, Highlands 3:23 Fund, Ceres Trust, and 11th Hour Project, and the emergency response focus is made possible with support from the Stuart Foundation and The California Endowment Fund.

The application window for the California Tribal Fund COVID-19 Response: Recovery & Resilience grant is open now, and the application deadline is November 20, 2020.

The grant application can be accessed here.

First Nations will host two optional Q&A webinars to provide an overview of the application process and address any questions:

* Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 1 to 2 pm Pacific Time. Register here.
* Monday, November 9, 2020, 3 to 4 pm Pacific Time. Register here.

The California COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is part of First Nations’ overall COVID-19 funding, which has resulted in over $2 million to 154 Native organizations nationwide.

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

Rebecca Tortes, First Nations Lead Program Officer – California Tribal Fund or (303) 774-7836