First Nations Pivots Funding to Support 23 Native Youth Organizations


First Nations Pivots Funding to Support Native Youth-Serving Organizations through the Pandemic

LONGMONT, Colorado (July 1, 2020) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced that 23 organizations and tribal programs will receive grants of up to $18,250 to continue to serve their youth and communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The grants are being awarded through First Nations’ Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF), which invests in projects that focus on youth and incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, mental health or other social issues in Native communities. 

When the pandemic took hold, First Nations worked with Kalliopeia Foundation and other entities that have made the fund possible since 2002 to shift funding to provide general operating grants to organizations and tribal programs that are closely tied to Native youth and aligned with the goals of the Native Youth and Culture Fund. The shift will allow these organizations to start or continue programs and services that positively impact Native Youth and their communities.

First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts said that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, First Nations has continued to listen to Native communities and be responsive and agile in awarding grants. “We are fortunate to be able to work with generous funders like Kalliopeia who understand the landscape and are willing to support us in reallocating resources as they’re needed,” Roberts said.

The 23 grantees were chosen based on projects outlined in their NYCF applications, which were submitted before the pandemic hit. These projects were focused on one or more of four priority areas:

  • Preserve, strengthen or renew cultural and/or spiritual practices, beliefs and values.
  • Engage both youth and elders in activities that demonstrate methods for documenting traditional ecological knowledge systems, practices and/or beliefs.
  • Increase youth leadership and their capacity to lead through integrated educational or mentoring programs. 
  • Increase access to and sharing of cultural customs and beliefs through the use of appropriate technologies (traditional and/or modern), as a means of reviving or preserving tribal language, arts, history or other culturally relevant topics.

The selected organizations can use the grant award to move forward with these projects or to meet general operating expenses to sustain their organizations through this crisis. 

Selected organizations and tribal programs for the NYCF funding are:

  • Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, CA — $18,250
  • Children of the Setting Sun Productions, Bellingham, WA — $18,250
  • Dakota Wicohan, Morton, MN — $18,000
  • First Alaskans Institute, Anchorage, AK — $18,000
  • Iḷisaġvik College, Barrow, AK — $18,250
  • Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center — $18,250
  • Ka Ehu, Wailuku, HI — $18,250
  • Kialegee Tribal Town, Wetumka, OK — $ 9,250
  • Native American Advancement Foundation, Inc., Tucson, AZ — $17,500
  • Native Artists United, Mandan, ND — $18,250
  • Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Lapwai, WA — $18,250
  • Nkwusm, Arlee, MT — $18,250
  • One Positive Thing In Kiana (OPT-IN Kiana), Kiana, AK — $18,250
  • Pueblo of Acoma, Acoma, NM — $9,000
  • Pueblo of Pojoaque, Santa Fe, NM — $7,500
  • Salamatof Tribe, Kenai, AK — $18,250
  • Save California Salmon, Redway, CA — $18,000
  • Seneca Nation of Indians, Irving, NY — $15,500
  • Three Sisters Sovereignty Project, West Fulton, NY — $18,250
  • Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, Tuolumne, CA — $10,000
  • World Indigenous Nations University Hawaii Pasifika, Kula, HI — $18,000
  • Yakanal, New Laguna, NM — $18,000
  • Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni, NM — $18,000

First Nations Lead Program Officer Abi Whiteing expressed her gratitude to all the organizations that applied for NYCF funding. “These groups are doing amazing and important work in engaging young Native people and nurturing this generation,” she said. Those who weren’t selected are encouraged to apply again in the next grant cycle. 

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



Abi Whiteing, Lead Program Officer 
(303) 774-7836 or


Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer 
(303) 774-7836 or