Native Language Immersion Initiative 2019-2020

Native Language Immersion Initiative Grant Opportunity

Application Deadline:

May 30, 2019

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General Information

General Information

For nearly 39 years, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), a Native-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has worked to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities by investing in and creating innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities. First Nations began its national grantmaking program in 1993. Through 2018, we have successfully managed 1,547 grants totaling more than $32.2 million to tribal and community institutions across Indian Country. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.

Because Native cultures and languages are, collectively, key assets for all Native communities, First Nations has long included a concentration on supporting their preservation and proliferation.  Since 2002, First Nations has supported tribes and Native communities working to maintain and strengthen cultural connections, identities and practices maintained through language, land/place, food, traditional art mediums and other forms of cultural expression.

Through generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (#ZZ-258560), Kalliopeia Foundation, Lannan Foundation and NoVo Foundation, First Nations is able to support the perpetuation of Native American languages through language-immersion education grants, technical assistance and training.

Grant Overview

First Nations launched its Native Language Immersion Initiative (NLII) in 2017, with the first of three funding cycles awarded in 2018. We are pleased to announce this request for proposals (RFP) for the third cycle of funding.

During this funding cycle, First Nations will distribute approximately 12 grants of up to $90,000 each to build the capacity of and directly support Native-controlled nonprofit organizations and tribal government programs actively supporting Native language-immersion programs.

The NLII seeks to build a dialogue and community of practice, through the grantee cohorts, around Native language immersion programs, and momentum for supporting Native language programs.

Program Requirements and Guidelines

Eligible programs must fit the following definition of a Native language immersion:

  1. Have an existing language-immersion program (one-year minimum).
  2. Provide at least 20 hours per week for an entire school year of Native American language instruction.
  3. Serve a minimum of 10 students within the target age of 3 to 22 years old.

Programs should be actively growing new speakers and have assessment and evaluation plans in order to identify progression in student Native language acquisition. Priority will be given to programs with long-term, community-based language plans.

Funding will support capacity-building activities designed to improve and enhance the language immersion program’s ability to achieve its mission. This may include curriculum development, technology access, instructional courses and materials, mentorships, teacher training and other kinds of organizational infrastructure.

Grant Period

The grant period for this funding opportunity will commence July 15, 2019, and end July 14, 2020.

Grant Award Ceilings

Total requests for project budgets within this funding opportunity should not exceed $90,000.

Submission Deadline

Applications must be submitted by THURSDAY, May 30, 2019, no later than 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.  

Download instructions for First Nations’ Online Application System here. Access First Nations’ Online Application system here.


Click here to download a PDF of this Request for Proposals.


Organizational Eligibility

Tribal government programs, tribal 7871 entities, Native-controlled nonprofit organizations and Native-controlled community organizations located in the United States are eligible to apply. Applicants located in an urban area are eligible to apply if they are able to demonstrate a close tie to one or more tribal communities.

Applicants must be located in the United States and serve Native American, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian communities.

Types of eligible applicants include, but are not limited to:

  • Federal- and State-Recognized Tribal Governments (Tribal Government Programs, such as Tribal Cultural or Education Departments, Tribal Museums, etc.)
  • Native 7871 Organizations
  • Native-Controlled 501(c)(3) Nonprofits
  • Native-Controlled Community Organizations with fiscal sponsorship

First Nations cannot fund any public or BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) schools. As required by the National Endowment for the Humanities, applicants must not be listed on the System for Award Management (SAM) debarment list. Please refer to the FAQ section for further insight regarding applicant eligibility.


Online Application Process & Required Attachments

All applicants must submit a proposal using First Nations’ ONLINE application system including the submission of all necessary attachments by MAY 30, 2019, no later than 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time

First Nations recognizes that some of our most rural and remote applicants may have limited access to high-speed internet. Any exceptions to use of the online system must be made at least two weeks in advance of the application deadline by submitting an email request to grantmaking@firstnations.org. Please include your name, organization, contact information and the name of the RFP for which you are applying. If you do not have access to email you can call our office at (303) 774-7836 and ask to speak with a member of the Grantmaking Department.

Important Note:

Please allow yourself enough time to submit a complete application before the deadline, as the system will shut down automatically at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time on May 30, 2019, and no data may be entered thereafter. Partial, faxed, emailed or mailed applications that are not received on time due to user error will not be considered.

The following attachments must be uploaded during the online submission process:

  1. Tax-Status Documentation. A copy of the organization or fiscal sponsor’s IRS Determination Letter if the applicant is a 501(c)(3) organization or a community organization using a fiscal sponsor. Tribal programs and governments may submit proof that they are a federal- or state-recognized tribe. This document should be uploaded as a PDF file.
  2. Timeline. (Download Required Timeline Form) A detailed project timeline that documents important project activities for each identified objective. Include staff who will be responsible for the implementation of the project activities and when they will be completed. The form provided is in Excel format and it must be uploaded as an Excel file or PDF file.
  3. Description of Board of Directors. Native-controlled nonprofits should submit a list of their Board of Directors, with tribal affiliation of each director where applicable. Community organizations with fiscal sponsors should submit a list of their leadership team, with tribal affiliation of each team member where applicable. Tribal programs and governments should submit a list of their Tribal Council in lieu of a Board of Directors. This document should be uploaded as a PDF file.
  4. Description of Key Leadership Staff. Native-controlled nonprofits and community organizations with fiscal sponsors should submit a list of key staff who will be responsible for overseeing and implementing the proposed project. Tribal programs and governments should submit a list of key staff responsible for overseeing and implementing the proposed project. This document should be uploaded as a PDF file.
  5. Budget. (Download Required Budget Form) A budget for the proposed project with a detailed cost breakdown that is reasonable and directly related to proposed grant activities. This form must be uploaded as an Excel file.

If you require a .pdf writer, there are many free options available including Cute PDF Writer and BullZip.  Or you may do a web search to find a writer that fits your needs.

All applicants must complete the First Nations online grant application, including submission of necessary attachments, no later than THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

First Nations will make final selections and notify all applicants regarding the status of their proposal on or before June 19, 2019. Notifications will be e-mailed to the project contact listed in the application.  If you do not receive an e-mail by then, please contact grantmaking@firstnations.org.

  • Download instructions for First Nations’ Online Application System here.
  • Access First Nations’ Online Application system here.
  • To return to a saved or in-process application, click here.
Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria

First Nations seeks projects that meet the spirit of this initiative and demonstrate:

  • A clear focus within projects and programs connected to the organization’s stated mission.
  • Proper alignment with stated funding priorities and eligibility guidelines.
  • A clear plan of action with specific, measurable and realistic goals and objectives.
  • Logical and sequential development of project or program-implementation timelines.
  • Accurate, reasonable and consistent project or program budget.
  • Commitment to periodic assessment, documentation and dissemination of progress and final results shared through a widely publicized report.
  • Feasibility, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of proposed projects or programs.
  • Sufficient organizational capacity to successfully implement the proposed project or programs.
  • Direct engagement of target audiences within the planning, implementation and evaluation process.

Allowable/Unallowable Costs

Administrative, programmatic and organizational capacity-building activities must support language-immersion programs.

Examples of allowable activities under this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to:

  • Indirect costs (10% cap)
  • Curriculum development
  • Language and culture summer and after-school camps
  • Professional development
  • Mentorships
  • Internships
  • Leadership succession planning
  • Strengthening technological and informational systems
  • Conducting audits

Examples of unallowable activities under this funding opportunity include:

  • Construction
  • Facilities purchase
  • Land purchase

No match is required. However, as required by the National Endowment for the Humanities, selected grant recipients must spend in compliance with all federal 2CFR200 rules and be familiar with these spending rules.

Grant Requirements

Evaluation and Reporting

Evaluation and Reporting: Grantees will be required to submit two progress reports quarterly through the grant period and one final report one month after the end of the grant period. Each report will consist of three parts: a narrative section, a budget section, and an evaluation section with data-tracking tool attachments. To complete these reports, grantees will be expected to report on the progress of their approved project objectives and expenditures as well as gather data that will provide information on enrollment, attendance and changes in student knowledge and skills.

First Nations will provide grantees with specific instructions for submitting these reports at the beginning of the grant period and before each report is due. The reports will enable First Nations to inform, publish and nationally disseminate a report on Native language-immersion programs.

Training & Travel Requirements During Grant Period

Grantee Cohort Meeting and Training Event: Date and Location TBD

Two team members from each selected grantee organization are required to attend a national language training and networking event tentatively scheduled for November 2019.

Travel scholarships will be provided to cover registration travel, lodging and other related expenses.


Application Q&A Sessions

First Nations will host two optional, informational Question & Answer (Q&A) webinars for interested applicants prior to the application deadline. These Q&A webinars will provide interested applicants with information about the Native Language Immersion Initiative, eligibility criteria, allowable grant activities, and NLII grant requirements. During the webinars, First Nations will also discuss specific questions in the grant application and sample responses. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions about the NLII and this funding opportunity.

Participation in these webinars is NOT mandatory, but applicants are strongly encouraged to register for and attend one or both of the webinars.

Application Q&A Sessions will be held on:

Grantseeker Resources

First Nations has compiled a number of free resources related to the grantwriting process. Whether you are a small organization new to grants or an organization with extensive experience, these resources will help with development of your application to First Nations.

Please click here to access First Nations’ free grantseeker resources.


Should you have any additional questions about the RFP or this specific funding opportunity, please contact Marsha Whiting by email at mwhiting@firstnations.org or by phone at (303) 774-7836.