Current Projects

Western COVID-19 Response Grant

Indigenous communities continue to respond to challenges surrounding COVID-19, in terms of budgets, demands on staff, and resources overall. With the generous support of the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, First Nations’ Western COVID-19 Response Grant is ensuring that Native nonprofits and tribal programs have resources for longer-term recovery related to pandemic response.

In line with the priorities of the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, funding is targeted to Native American applicants who are or who serve adults and transitioning youth with disabilities, elders, foster youth, and veterans and military families, and 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.

In 2021, First Nations awarded nine grants ranging from $23,000 to $28,000. Grants were 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
  • Communications and technology

2021 Grantees

Chugach Regional Resources (CRRC), Anchorage, Alaska, $27,815

This program will serve 100 Alaska Native elders in two non-federally recognized Tribes: Qutekcak Native Tribe and The Valdez Native Tribe. These Tribes have not been eligible for federal COVID-19 support, but have long-standing elder food distribution programs. The Qutekcak Native Tribe has 212 tribal members (50 elders) and 34% of Alaska Natives living in Seward are under the national poverty level. The Valdez Native Tribe has 700 registered Tribal Members (100 elders) and 56% are under the national poverty level.

Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Longview, Washington, $28,000

This grant will help fund the Cowlitz Tribe Community Wellness Garden, which supplies produce for elder meals and serves as a site for elders to engage in gardening and socialization. The garden was designed to be accessible to elders, including multiple raised beds with built-in benches and wide paths for wheelchairs and walkers. Elders can harvest their own produce or access bagged produce in a common refrigerator.

Hui Aloha Aina Momona: Kaneohe, Hawaii, $25,800

This project aims to empower residents of Hawaii to become more food-secure and food-independent. Plans are to establish a community patch of taro designated specifically for four demographic groups: foster youth, elders, veterans, and those transitioning to independent living. These groups will gather luau leaf and taro for personal consumption. They will also receive a minimum of 50 breadfruit trees to plant in their yards, along with Indigenous farming nutrients to ensure growth. The goal is to establish a minimum of five ʻOhana for the target populations.

Ka Ehu, Wailuku, Hawaii, $28,000

This project focuses on youth, elders, veterans, and children in foster care. The primary objective is to provide healthy food and snacks to over 400 Native youth and elder participants and volunteers that come to the area to: help restore the natural resources, learn more about their culture, and socialize with group/family/community members. Additionally, project coordinators will connect 400 Native youth and elders to cultural programs to help combat COVID-19 isolation and provide a large, outdoor classroom for group activities.

Pueblo of Santa Clara, Espanola, New Mexico, $23,000

This grant introduces elders to technology at the Santa Clara Adult Day Care Center, focusing on day-to-day use. They will provide a website to their clients, while also providing 10 to 20 food and essential-item boxes. Clients will learn to communicate via Zoom, and will establish competency in digital communications.

Rocky Boy Veterans Center, Box Elder, Montana, $28,000

This center helps veterans enrolled in the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy, Montana. A secondary focus is on helping American Indian veterans on the Fort Belknap and Blackfeet Reservations in north-central Montana. Veteran Support Services provides a range of services and resources to help veterans improve or maintain their quality of life. This project helps 200 veterans maintain a healthy standard of living throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing veteran-specific case management services and assisting with maintaining employment.

Sealaska Heritage Institute, Juneau, Alaska, $28,000

This project documents at-risk cultural knowledge of the protocols surrounding the “Removal of Grief” ceremony and adaptations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The community served are Tlingit elders who will share their knowledge and work together in recording the ceremony. While this project primarily involves Tlingit elders, it also serves the wider Tlingit community via the next generation of clan leaders, who bear the responsibility of sponsoring the “Removal of Grief” ceremony to support their people into the future.

White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort Apache, Arizona, $28,000

The White Mountain Apache Tribe will work closely with elders in their Tribal communities―those knowledgeable in Apache culture, language, and teachings. They will reach out to elders from the Tribe through organizations that serve elders or have elders they work with through their programming. Many elders in the community are experts on Apache food, ways, and culture. They are excited to collaborate with elders to share their knowledge and make connections with younger generations.

Yee Ha’ólníi Doo d/b/a Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, Salt Lake City, Utah, $28,000

The primary objective of this fund is to protect the most vulnerable in the Navajo Nation and  Hopi Tribe from COVID-19. An estimated one-third of households within the Navajo Nation lack indoor plumbing, limiting handwashing and raising the risk of COVID contraction for families who live there. This grant will provide portable handwashing stations to 239 un-piped households within the Navajo Nation―those that include elders or military veterans. The average household size on the reservation is four. Therefore, this grant will help protect an estimated 956 people from the risk of COVID-19 infection.