First Nations Receives Support to Promote Health Equity in Colorado

$1.5 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to strengthen community-based efforts to improve health and well-being of Colorado’s Native people and communities

Longmont, Colo. (March 3, 2022) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced the receipt of a two-year $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation. The support will be used to develop the Native American Fund for Health Equity aimed at increasing philanthropic investment to Native-led community organizations and tribes in Colorado.

First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development & Communications Raymond Foxworth, Ph.D., said the commitment from the Colorado Health Foundation will help shine a light on the underinvestment occurring in Native communities by Colorado foundations. The goal of the Native American Fund for Health Equity is to increase support to Native American organizations and tribes pursuing health equity on their terms and also build relationships between Native organizations and tribes in Colorado with philanthropic institutions in the state.

Dr. Foxworth added that new research by First Nations has found that only one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of Colorado philanthropy is awarded to Colorado Native American tribes and community-based organizations.

“Native communities across the state are doing amazing work to promote health equity, including perpetuating Native languages and cultural practices. Sadly, this work is largely invisible and unsupported by philanthropic organizations in Colorado. We hope this fund generates greater attention leading to more investment in Native community innovation and resiliency,” Dr. Foxworth said. “We commend the Colorado Health Foundation for not only recognizing this inequity in investment, but also leading the philanthropy community in addressing the inequity in funding.”

Colorado Health Foundation leaders noted that the grant to First Nations represents one of the deepest investments the foundation has made to an intermediary fund, and expressed excitement about how the work will advance health and race equity across the state. In addition to funding, by design, the grant also allows for details of the foundation’s giving to Colorado Native communities and organizations to be shared by First Nations, reflecting a clear commitment by the foundation to improving transparency and accountability in the philanthropic sector.

“There is no doubt that Colorado philanthropy, and philanthropy more broadly, has done little to advance the health and well-being of Native communities,” said Sean Dollard, program officer at the Colorado Health Foundation. “This landmark investment partnership with First Nations Development institute represents a compelling pathway to focus the voice, power, and agency of Native leaders to act upon resonant self-determination — a pathway of healing, community-driven outcomes, and racial justice.”

The Native American Fund for Health Equity will be led by a newly established Native American Advisory Committee, comprising Native people from Colorado’s two Native nations and Native nonprofit sector, who will define and develop guidelines and goals of the fund that are rooted in Native health equity. This participatory process to funding is in line with First Nations’ approach of listening to and learning from Native communities themselves, recognizing that Native people are the experts for how to best steward, grow, or develop their own assets.

The Native American Fund for Health Equity is a matching grant and over the next two years, First Nations, in partnership with the Colorado Health Foundation, will work to match the Colorado Health Foundation grant resulting in a $3 million pooled fund that will be granted to Native nations and Native-led organizations doing work to advance health equity in the state.

More information about First Nations’ work to strengthen tribal and community institutions, including initiatives to advance racial and economic equity, can be found here. 

About First Nations Development Institute

For 41 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

COMMUNICATIONS CONTACT: Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer
(303) 774-7835 x213 or ajakober@firstn​