Current Projects

Native Youth and Culture Fund

First Nations launched the Native Youth and Culture Fund in 2002 with generous support from Kalliopeia Foundation and other foundations and tribal, corporate and individual supporters. Since then, over 10,000 Native youth have benefited from the NYCF

The fund is designed to enhance culture and language awareness, and promote youth empowerment, leadership and community building. Thousands of tribal youth have been and are being served through these innovative efforts, which range from culture camps and language nests, to business classes and financial education workshops, to agriculture and other food-based activities.

In 2020 and 2021, First Nations awarded 56 grants totaling $1,177,500 to tribes and Native American organizations in 18 states whose projects met one or more of the NYCF priorities. Through the COVID-19 emergency, many of the tribes and organizations faced a number of challenges in regards to responding to the emergency. All 56 organizations and tribes selected confronted shutdowns, program sustainability challenges, and technology shortages and issues, as well as other community-based and youth-specific challenges. Grant money for the NYCF program was converted to general operating funds for these grantees to help them weather and address these challenges.

Learn about previous grantees from 2015 to 2019.

Latest Grant Cycle

The application window for the 2022 grant cycle closed November 14, 2022. Thanks to a First Nations’ matching gift campaign, First Nations will soon be awarding 15 to 18 grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to Native-led nonprofits and organizations that are focused on providing youth opportunities that support the perpetuation of traditional knowledge, spirituality and the intergenerational transfer of knowledge systems.

This funding is available as general operating support and can be used to build organizational/programmatic capacity or increase sustainability, or for specific youth project-focused activities. Check back soon to learn about the 2022 grantees.

2021: $800,000

Blackfeet Tribe, Browning, Montana, $15,000

The Empowering Blackfeet Youth Summer Camp supports 100 children from ages 6 to 18. Blackfeet language, culture, arts and crafts are taught in tandem with sports, hikes, swimming, and horseback riding.

California Indian Museum & Cultural Center, Santa Rosa, California, $25,000

Tribal Youth Ambassadors (TYA) is an empowerment program for Native youth ages 10 to 24. TYA draws on and amplifies strengths and creativity by engaging Native youth in projects that challenge them to identify and find solutions to critical issues in their communities. The program supports Native youth with mentoring from Native elders, adults, and peers to transfer knowledge and skills intergenerationally and keep youth connected to their cultures.

Carrizo Comecrudo Nation of Texas, Inc., Floresville, Texas, $10,000

The Carrizo Comecrudo elder and youth cultural workshops is a series of workshops that brings tribal members together to connect elders and youth to traditional lifeways and customs. Activities include basket-weaving, dressmaking, food harvesting and preparation, drum-making, plant identification, crafts, and other traditions.

Children of the Setting Sun Productions, Bellingham, Washington, $25,000

The Salmon People Research Project and Podcast is a two-part project that supports youth elders interviewed and the broader community by strengthening traditional Indigenous knowledge around the survival of salmon.

Chippewa Cree Tribe, Box Elder, Montana, $25,000

The Chippewa Cree Tribal Revitalization Trainee Program Enhancement Project increases language capacity on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation by creating an enhancement to the Mahchiwminahnahtik Chippewa Cree Language Revitalization (MCCLR) trainee Program. The MCCLR mission is to revitalize, promote, teach, and perpetuate the languages of the Chippewa Cree People. The enhancement program focuses on teacher training, resources, and documentation including language instruction modules, recordings, transcribing, and curriculum development.

Dakota Wicohan, Morton, Minnesota, $25,000

The Isnati Ca Dowanpi (“Becoming a Woman” for young Dakota women) Ceremony supports 10 young women from the Upper and Lower Sioux communities of Minnesota and prepares them for the coming of age ceremony, one of the seven original ceremonies brought to the Dakota by the White Buffalo Calf Woman. Each young woman, sponsored by her mother, aunt, grandmother, or trusted adult female mentor, attends monthly preparation meetings prior to the four-day summer ceremony.

First Alaskans Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, $25,000

The Awareness, Connection, Action: Preparing our Next Generation of Indigenous Leaders project focuses on First Alaskans Institutes’ Indigenous Leadership Continuum (ILC) initiative, which operates with the knowledge that Alaska Natives carry leadership responsibility to their people and community. It is the communal belief that young people have an inherent ability to lead in their own right, with unique strengths to promote culture, leadership, and community connections.

Fort Belknap Community Economic Development Corporation, Harlem, Montana, $25,000

The Aaniiih and Nakoda Youth Leadership Development project creates cultural and educational opportunities for Native youth by increasing access to traditional ecological knowledge, and Aaniiih and Nakoda languages. These activities focus on teaching medicinal plant harvesting, Native games, horse therapy, sweat ceremony, powwow singing and dancing, powwow regalia-making, ceremonial teachings, and traditional arts and crafts.

Gwichin Social and Cultural Institute of Alaska, Inc., Beaver, Alaska, $25,000

This project created two land-based bilingual storybooks in English and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa. Two Beaver Village elders worked with students to develop and translate two narratives about ecological issues affecting the Gwich’in community. The Gwi’chin Social and Cultural Institute of Alaska illustrated, printed, and distributed the books to the students and larger Gwich’in community, and are available on its website.

Hopi School , Inc., Kykotsmovi, Arizona, $25,000

The Hopitutuqaiki Arts Program hosts a series of arts and crafts classes for students of all ages. Classes included endangered Hopi arts and crafts, such as belt- weaving, kilt-weaving, wicker plaque-weaving, crochet for leggings, embroidery for kilts, and Hopi cooking using Indigenous plant life. The classes utilize a mentorship approach to learning, where one master craftsperson works with up to six apprentices to master a craft or an element of a craft. These classes have resulted in an increased number of new artists and crafts persons in the community.

Indigenous Association, Fargo, North Dakota, $25,000

The Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Contemporary Story Work Project connects youth with elder knowledge keepers to foster a deeper understanding about how the local ecology serves as the foundation for developing and passing on Indigenous ways of walking through the world. Central to this project is instruction in contemporary ways of communicating knowledge through multi-media story work and printmaking, providing participating youth the opportunity to translate historical knowledge into mediums relevant to their modern lived experiences.

Kahuli Leo Lea, Kaneohe, Hawaii, $25,000

Mele Hoopulapula operates to provide the Native Hawaiian population with a repository of knowledge on aina hoopulapula (homestead lands), established by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921. Mele, the Hawaiian practice of knowledge through song, served as the nexus of this repository. Through mentorship in mele composition, expert composers are paired with emerging mele practitioners and collect cultural data and encode them within mele compositions–to be recorded and made available as an educational resource, alongside a written curriculum.

Ke Kula Nui O Waimanalo, Waimanalo, Hawaii, $25,000

The Opio Leadership Academy supports Waimanalo youth by enabling them to walk the path of their ancestors and provide them with programming that is essential in sustaining health, happiness, and increased engagement in cultural lifeways. Through hands-on activities steeped in traditional ways and necessary for future generations to know, youth are engaged in programs designed to ensure preservation and perpetuation of traditional practices.

Keres Children’s Learning Center, Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, $25,000

Through language and culture curriculum, using an intergenerational approach that supports students’ and families’ language and culture, Keres Children’s Learning Center provides children from ages 3 to 12 learning opportunities in the following developmental domains: physical, spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional, linguistic, grace, and courtesy.

Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society, Porcupine, South Dakota, $25,000

The Teachings from Our Relatives: The Pte Oyate (Buffalo) project provides educational opportunities and cultural healing camps for 40 children, ages 12 to 17, and their families based on the teachings of the Buffalo Nation. These opportunities are provided in response to experiences of, and exposure to, trauma. COVID-19 increases trauma, grief, and loss experienced by many isolated children and families. The curriculum focuses on healing for a balanced lifestyle.

Ma Ka Hana Ka Ike Building Program, Hana, Hawaii, $25,000

Malama I Na Hulu Kupuna serves 75 Native Hawaiian youth in the rural district of Hana, East Maui, through training opportunities in building, farming, and reviving Hawaiian food systems, all designed to support kupuna (elders) aging in place. Patterned after traditional social structures, the project restores the rightful role of youth, in their physical prime, as caregivers of their kupuna—in their spiritual prime—through culturally grounded activities.

Maqlaqs Paddle Club, Klamath Falls, Oregon, $25,000

Paddling Tribal Waters supports youth from the Klamath Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Nez Perce Tribe in traveling to three paddling clinics across three states in collaboration with Otter Bar in Salmon Fork California and Barker River Trips in Lewiston, Idaho. While focusing on whitewater paddling, Maqlaqs bridges the sport with the cultural aspects of the Ewksiknii, including first-foods gathering, hunting, and language revitalization.

Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming, Bemidji, Minnesota, $25,000

Mewinzha expands opportunities for youth to connect, learn, engage, and apply traditional teachings and lessons from elders through the establishment of a youth and elder group in the Bemidji region.

National Indian Youth Leadership Development Project, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, $25,000

Project Pre-Venture is a positive youth development model geared to 4th–5th grade American Indian children composed of experiential, outdoor activities organized around traditional food systems, healthy eating, physical activity, service learning, and intergenerational connections.

Native Village of Georgetown, Anchorage, Alaska, $25,000

The Connecting with Our Land – Together in Georgetown project is an intergenerational program which connects youth and elders through mentorship opportunities.

Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, Macy, Nebraska, $25,000

The Omaha Way program increases youth access to cultural activities, traditional Native American values, elder knowledge of cultural values and meanings, spiritual beliefs/practices, language, and history. The population served by this program is Native American children and youth ages 15-24 residing within the boundaries of the Omaha Tribe’s reservation.

Onkwe, Bombay, New York, $25,000

The Youth Development Project provides traditional one-on-one teaching on all aspects of Onkwe’s mission, which is gardening, cultivation, preservation, foraging medicines and foods, language, ceremonies, making maple syrup, traditional clothing, jewelry, instruments, medicines, and the overall Mohawk traditional way of life.

Onkwe is made up of over 200+ volunteers, which provides the program with the valuable knowledge to pass to youth and to continue on with a strong heritage.

Opt-In Kiana, Kiana, Alaska, $25,000

One Positive Thing in Kiana (OPT-In) is a community-based, all-inclusive youth group focused on empowering youth to find their voices and develop their abilities to contribute to the community through training opportunities for youth to develop leadership, cultural, and subsistence skills. A new internship program helps youth increase knowledge and understanding in planning, grant writing, presenting, and activity planning and development.

Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, Maine, $25,000

The Penobscot Youth Program’s mission is dedicated to enriching youths’ lives through a safe, caring atmosphere and structured environment while utilizing culture as a catalyst to strengthen responsibility, communication, and life skills. The Traditional Teachings program creates a sustainable cultural program for the youth while growing cultural practices in the community by modeling a train-the-trainer approach to learning. This internship opportunity teaches the youth so that the Penobscot culture can be passed down to the next generation.

Stronghold Society, Thornton, Colorado, $25,000

The Stronghold Society inspires confidence, creativity, hope, and ambition for Native youth through arts programs and skateboarding. Funding supporting strategic planning and capacity-building is due to increased interest from other reservations to build skateparks, host gatherings, and continued development of inter-tribal youth leadership opportunities.

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Towaoc, Colorado, $25,000

The Ute Youth Photography and Storybook Project supports approximately 400 youth enrolled in the Ute Mountain Ute youth programming. This project funds youth photography classes that focus on the ecology of, and changes on, the Ute Mountain Reservation. This project also will culminate in a photo exhibit and the production of a storybook developed by Ute youth and elders featuring photographs from the youth photography class.

White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort Apache, Arizona, $25,000

The Growing Young Apache Farmers project is an apprenticeship project for four Apache youth, ages 18-25, so that they can grow into the next generation of farmers, gatherers, and food sovereignty advocates. The apprenticeship occurs during the growing season and includes hands-on skills-building, classes, field trips, community outreach, as well as planning, implementing, and engaging community youth group visits at the farm.

Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System, Winnebago, Nebraska, $25,000

Native Connections supports Winnebago youth ages 14-24 in suicidal ideation, suicide, and substance abuse prevention, while approaching cultural trauma through exploration of traditional cultural practices. Workshops in regalia, instrument, and tool-making are an outlet for empowerment. A Ho-Chunk language component supports ownership in traditional ways. The Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System mental health therapists promote familiarity and trust in counseling as a further tool to support young people’s healthy choices.

Wiyot Tribe, Loleta, California, $25,000

The Elder-In-Residence Program provides opportunities for Wiyot youth to learn a cultural practice through workshops presented by elders, which facilitate the revitalization, reclamation, and reintroduction of cultural practices. The program was developed so new learners would benefit as much as individuals who already possess and continue to develop a skill, as well as develop an interest in furthering their knowledge.

Woodland Boys and Girls Club. Inc., Neopit, Wisconsin, $25,000

The Woodland Boys and Girls Club works to support Menominee youth ages 6-18 in speaking the Menominee language and practicing Menominee traditions and culture. The funds helped to increase program sustainability by hiring additional staff and elders who work to support Menominee language learning.

World Indigenous Nations University Hawaii Pasifika, Kula, Hawaii, $25,000

Project Paakai Inquiry with Kaupulehu Ohana (PIKO) monitors microplastics in paakai, and explores Indigenous solutions to food security by using consumable paakai, a school community garden and imu (underground oven) to learn about Native Hawaiian food systems. Participants/students were able to enroll at Innovations Public Charter School. Kupuna (elder) mentor students by sharing their knowledge and experiences. Foods prepared by PIKO participants are distributed to families in the community, with priority to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yakanal, New Laguna, New Mexico, $25,000

The Mother Moon project connects youth and elders to cultivate gardens to understand the growth cycle of medicinal plants and the relationship between bees and other insect pollinators, native flora, and lunar phases. The project encourages and strengthens youth leadership, intergenerational learning, and revitalizes traditional knowledge and community-based activities around traditional midwifery and how these processes relate to Mother Moon.

Yurok Tribe, Klamath, California, $25,000

The Yurok Youth and Culture project supports an intergenerational traditional food education program for elementary school youth within the Yurok Indian Reservation (YIR). With an emphasis on traditional foods (collection, processing, and cultural relevance), lessons focus on the collection of basket materials, traditional medicines, and/or regalia– as all of those lessons are related to the continuance of Yurok traditional foodways. This program benefits Yurok youth, elders, and the wider Yurok community through cultural education and connection.

2020: $377,500

Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, California, $18,250

Children of the Setting Sun Productions, Bellingham, Washington, $18,250

Dakota Wicohan, Morton, Minnesota, $18,000

First Alaskans Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, $18,000

Iḷisaġvik College, Barrow, Alaska, $18,250

Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center, $18,250

Ka Ehu, Wailuku, Hawaii, $18,250

Kialegee Tribal Town, Wetumka, Oklahoma, $9,250

Native American Advancement Foundation, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, $17,500

Native Artists United, Mandan, North Dakota, $18,250

Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Lapwai, Washington, $18,250

Nkwusm, Arlee, Montana, $18,250

One Positive Thing In Kiana (OPT-IN Kiana), Kiana, Alaska, $18,250

Pueblo of Acoma, Acoma, New Mexico, $9,000

Pueblo of Pojoaque, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $7,500

Salamat of Tribe, Kenai, Alaska, $18,250

Save California Salmon, Redway, California, $18,000

Seneca Nation of Indians, Irving, New York, $15,500

Three Sisters Sovereignty Project, West Fulton, New York, $18,250

Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, Tuolumne, California, $10,000

World Indigenous Nations University Hawaii Pasifika, Kula, Hawaii, $18,000

Yakanal, New Laguna, New Mexico, $18,000

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni, New Mexico, $18,000