First Nations Receives Transformative Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

First Nations Receives Transformative Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

LONGMONT, Colorado (July 30, 2020) – The board and staff of First Nations Development Institute (First Nationsare honored to announce the receipt of an $8 million transformative, unrestricted gift from novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The gift was part of a $1.7 billion outpouring of support to 116 organizations that address racial equity, climate change, public health, and more. First Nations was one of those organizations.

First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts expressed the organization’s gratitude for the generosity and vision of Ms. Scott. “We are humbled to be included with this esteemed list of nonprofits that are standing up and leading change for excluded and marginalized populations,” Roberts said. 

With this gift, First Nations will continue its 40-year tradition of strengthening Native communities and economies through programs and resources that uphold Native values, cultures, and lifeways, restoring what has been lost and creating a more equitable, compassionate world for future generations. Roberts said that First Nations is currently evaluating program needs, strategies, and potential impact in order to use the funding in the most effective way possible to support grassroots Native efforts that improve the lives and future of Native Peoples. 

This work is especially important now as Native communities continue to respond to the threats of COVID-19, which has had a disproportionate effect in Indian Country due to long-existing vulnerabilities in health care, infrastructure and resources. Roberts said the gift is timely in light of the pandemic, and also transformative as Native-led nonprofits are historically underfunded and unrecognized in today’s philanthropic world.

“This funding will go far in helping Native People reclaim, restore, and rebuild for an equal, just world,” he said. “We are grateful and inspired to continue serving Native communities with accountability and transparency, and creating long-term measurable impact.” 

First Nations concentrates efforts in six key areas: Nourishing Native foods systems, investing in Native youth, strengthening Tribal and community institutions, achieving Native financial empowerment, advancing household and community asset-building strategies, and stewarding Native lands. First Nations is the most highly-rated American Indian nonprofit in the nation, meeting strict criteria of top charity watchdogs, and 81% of gifts go directly to program costs.

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



Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer 
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