Current Projects

Indigenous Food Systems Community of Practice

The goal of First Nations’ Indigenous Food Systems Community of Practice is to foster more equitable practices by philanthropic institutions, resulting in increased access to resources by Native-led organizations and initiatives. Through this Community of Practice, food systems funders have the opportunity to share and sharpen their skills and strategies for investing in Indigenous partners who are leading sustainable agriculture and food systems work in Indian Country.

The project is being implemented through a partnership between First Nations and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) and is made possible with support from Northwest Area Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Key objectives include:

  • Increase investments in Native-led initiatives by Community of Practice participant organizations
  • Build and strengthen connections between funders with varying levels of experience with grantmaking in Indian Country
  • Increase participants’ awareness, advocacy and ability to identify and create change within their internal philanthropic practices to produce a more equitable funding environment
  • Help participants establish a deeper understanding of Indigenous communities

In the first year of the program, funders gathered to interact, learn, and build relationships with Native American practitioners, organizations, and communities offering food systems solutions. Guided by Melvin Consulting, a Hopi-owned and -led firm, the community gave participants an opportunity to foster more equitable practices by philanthropic institutions, resulting in increased access to resources by Native-led organizations and initiatives.


2024 Indigenous Food Systems Community of Practice

The program is continuing into 2024 with a new Community of Practice designed to provide an opportunity for food funders to share and sharpen skills and strategies for investing in Indigenous partners who are leading sustainable agriculture and food systems work in Indian Country.

In spring 2024, the second cohort of food funders came together to advance food systems solutions in Native communities. Presented in partnership with Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) and facilitated by the Hopi-led firm Melvin Consulting, the three days of sessions were aimed at building community connections, increasing investments, and strengthening advocacy efforts for Native food producers and allies. Highlights included a cooking demonstration by Chef Nephi Craig and a site visit to First Nations’ community partner Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, where board president Roxanne Swentzell (pictured here) led a discussion and tour.

We thank Poeh Cultural Center for hosting us, and our community of practice members for their individual dedication and organizational commitment to supporting cultural foodways.

Indigenous Food Systems: Funder Webinar

In April 2021, Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and A-dae Romero-Briones, director of programs – Native Agriculture and Food Systems for First Nations, led a dynamic discussion to introduce the Community of Practice and help funders deepen their knowledge of U.S. food systems and how policy, systemic racism, and inequity have shaped Indigenous agriculture and food systems both historically and today.

Grantmakers, lenders, and investors: View the recording here!