First Nations Awards Over $1 Million in Emergency Funds

First Nations Continues Pandemic Response with Over $1 Million in Emergency Funds Directed to Native Communities

LONGMONT, Colorado (May 29, 2020) – As part of an ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic and the long-term impact it will have throughout Indian Country, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced its fourth round of Emergency Response Fund grants. This round brings the total amount of grants awarded to $1,083,000 to 71 organizations (including in Alaska and Hawaii) to help them respond to the needs of their communities, provide emergency supplies, and sustain operations. 100% of funds raised through the fund are being directed to Native organizations, without withholding administrative fees or overhead.

In addition, First Nations has coordinated the donation of over 21,000 gallons of water and over 14,000 pounds of USDA-certified meat, along with PPE, directly to Indian communities. Funding and donations have gone to Native nations and organizations hit hard by COVID-19, including to the Cherokee Nation, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Tribe. 

Michael Roberts, First Nations President and CEO, explained that the pandemic is exposing the vulnerabilities of these Native communities that have always existed, but are now exasperated due to limited funding, infrastructure, and resources. “Our job at First Nations has always been supporting Indigenous leaders and communities in solving their own problems,” Roberts said. “We also have been extremely blessed to enjoy relationship with donors and the philanthropic community. Based on this, we have an obligation, a duty, to make sure those relationships benefit American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian peoples at large.”

The impact of coronavirus will have long-term effects on Native communities, where cases have not reached their peak and where people continue to struggle to get food, water, health care and support. 

“Without an influx of resources to sustain themselves, Native communities and cultures are even more in jeopardy. We need to get funds out quickly and efficiently now and going forward as our efforts shift from COVID-19 response to COVID-19 recovery,” Roberts said. 

First Nations’ Board Chair Benny Shendo, Jr., (Jemez Pueblo) recently shared that he is proud of the organization’s approach to community investments during this unprecedented health and economic crisis. “First Nations’ fundamental belief is that communities have the solutions and know what’s needed. Our job is just to be a vehicle to get funds quickly to people on the ground fighting the good fight. It is refreshing to see funds invested almost as quickly as they are donated, unrestricted and without the barriers of extensive applications and other red tape that holds up vital resources when they are most urgently needed,” said the New Mexico State Senator.

The Emergency Response Fund is made possible thanks to generous funders as well as an outpouring of support from individual donors. A full list of funders and grantees can be found here, along with a secure donation form to contribute to the response fund.

Additional information, including other emergency funds available for Native communities, is highlighted on First Nations’ Coronavirus Resources webpage.

First Nations continues to call on the philanthropic community to invest in Indian Country, and for like-minded funders to forgo their traditional grant processes in order to expedite funds as efficiently as possible. First Nations also encourages direct support to Native nations and Native-controlled nonprofits as they continue combating the pandemic.

About First Nations Development Institute
For more than 39 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



Michael Roberts, President & CEO or (303) 774-7836