First Nations to Provide More COVID-19 Relief to Native Communities Thanks to Grant from May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

LONGMONT, Colo. (May 20, 2021) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is honored to announce the receipt of a $300,000 grant from the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. The grant will be used over a two-year period to support the long-term sustainability and resiliency of Native American nonprofits, organizations, and tribes that have been serving their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with the priorities of the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, funding will be targeted to Native American applicants who are or who serve adults and transitioning youth with disabilities, elders, foster youth, and veterans and military families, who are located in the western United States, specifically, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

First Nations will award 10 to 14 grants ranging from $23,000 to $28,000, based on an upcoming application process. Grants will be awarded as general support and can be used to meet the needs of the target populations in multiple ways, including to provide access to PPE; assistance with housing, food security or other critical human services; existing or expanded mental health programs; capacity building and leadership development; advocacy training to enhance Native access to philanthropic funding; strengthening of cultural connectedness among youth and elders who experience isolation due to COVID-19; financial bridge support; and communications and technology.

The need for this support is great as the effects of COVID-19 span several levels, according to First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts. At the individual level, Native Americans are contracting COVID-19 at a rate greater than 3.5 times that of white people. At the cultural level, Native communities are looking at not only tragic death tolls but also the irreplaceable loss of tribal elders who are the keepers of traditional knowledge, tribal cultures and lifeways, and Native languages. At the economic level, with many Native businesses closed, Native communities are expected to experience an estimated $50 billion loss in economic activity. At the front-line service level, tribes, Native nonprofits, and Native groups are pushed to the limit, in terms of their budgets, demands on staff, and resources overall. And finally, at the philanthropic level, Native-led programs and organizations are severely and chronically under-resourced and often invisible to the mainstream public.

“Food insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, and preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses increase Native susceptibility to the pandemic,” Roberts said. “With this support and commitment from the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust we can continue to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t mirror the devastating pandemics that decimated Native populations upon colonization.”

William Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, said the Trust will grant nearly $10 million additional in 2020 and 2021 to address the impacts of COVID-19 throughout the Trust’s grantmaking area of western U.S. states and British Columbia.

“We are proud to engage in this partnership with First Nations Development Institute as it will help ensure that resources reach Native American communities most-adversely impacted by the pandemic,” said Smith.

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 or (303) 774-7836