Strengthening Native Programs & Feeding Families Grant

Application Deadline:

March 31, 2022, no later than 5 pm Mountain Time

General Information

First Nations recognizes that American Indians have the highest rates of food insecurity in the United States. First Nations also recognizes that in the face of food challenges, there are many efforts by Native communities and nonprofits that work to distribute food and decrease the rate of hunger and food insecurity in their communities. First Nations seeks to ensure that Native nonprofits and tribal programs have resources for the long-term and immediate distribution of food to Native people. This includes: general support for infrastructure building, and support for logistical aspects of food distribution, capacity building for organizations, networking, and accessing healthy foods.

Grant Overview

With the generous support of American Express, the Strengthening Native Programs & Feeding Families Grant is part of First Nations’ Food Pantry Initiative, which aims to sustain Native American communities, organizations, and programs addressing community needs with a particular focus on food insecurity. The Food Pantry Initiative was created to respond to the fact that American Indians have the highest food insecurity rates in the United States and Tribal community organizations and Tribes are in the best position to address their needs.

Through the Food Pantry Initiative, First Nations expects to award 12 Strengthening Native Programs & Feeding Families Grants averaging $10,000 each annually over four years. With these grants, the Food Pantry Initiative will support a total of 48 Native-run nonprofits and Native community groups that are addressing food insecurity through food distribution.  Selected grantees will also work to distribute approximately 5,000 pounds of food, in line with the Food Pantry Initiative goal of collecting and distributing a total of 240,000 pounds of food over the four years of the grant program.

Grant Period

The grant period for this funding opportunity is September 15, 2021, to February 28, 2022.

Grant Award Ceilings

Total requests for project budgets within the Food Pantry Initiative should not exceed $10,000.


Download a PDF of this RFP here


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

  • Federal- and state-recognized Tribal Governments (Tribal Government Programs, such as Tribal Arts Programs, Heritage Departments, and Economic Development Entities)
  • Native-controlled 501(c)(3) nonprofits
  • Native-controlled community organizations with fiscal sponsorship
  • Native 7871 Organizations

All grantees must be in the United States.

Please refer to the Grantmaking FAQ section for further insight regarding applicant eligibility.

Application Deadlines

Applications are due August 17, 2021, no later than 5 pm Mountain Time.

Unfortunately, First Nations cannot make any emergency exceptions to application deadlines. Partial applications, incomplete applications due to user error, or faxed/emailed/mailed applications will not be considered unless they have received prior approval.

Allowable Grant Activities

Selected grantees under this opportunity must use funding to support work that is addressing food insecurity or hunger in Native communities.

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

  • Building on needed or existing infrastructure
  • Supporting logistics (e.g., food safety, food processing, packaging, transportation)
  • Capacity building for the organization and staff (e.g., specialized trainings, transportation)
  • Networking (e.g., for food recovery to collect edible, safe foods that would otherwise be discarded and, instead, distribute them to hungry families)
  • Accessing healthy foods traditional to a Native diet

Examples of unallowable activities under this funding opportunity include:

  • Lobbying
  • Entertainment
  • Capital construction projects (including the construction, purchase, renovation, and/or furnishing of facilities)
  • Funding of individuals
  • Development campaigns
  • Endowments
  • Scholarships or tuition assistance

 Online Application Process & Required Attachments

All applicants must complete the First Nations online grant application, including submission of necessary attachments, no later than August 17, 2021, at 5 pm 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.

Download instructions for First Nations’ Online Application System here.

Access First Nations’ Online Application system to begin a new application here.

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

  • Attachment A: An estimated budget for the proposed project with a detailed cost breakdown that is reasonable and directly related to proposed grant activities. (Download Budget Template)
  • Attachment B: Timeline. A detailed project timeline that documents important project goals, milestones, and benchmarks. This should include who will be responsible for the steps and when they will be completed. (Download Project Timeline Template)
  • Attachment C: Tax-Status Documentation. A copy of the organization’s 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.
  • Attachment D: Board of Director List. Native-controlled nonprofits should submit a list of their Board of Directors, with tribal affiliation listed (if applicable). Community organizations with fiscal sponsors should submit a list of their own leadership team (not the fiscal sponsor’s), with tribal affiliation (if applicable). Tribal programs and governments should submit a list of their Tribal Council in lieu of a Board of Directors.
  • Attachment E: Key Staff List. Native-controlled nonprofits, tribal programs and governments, and community organizations with fiscal sponsors must submit a list of key staff responsible for overseeing and implementing the proposed project.
Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria

First Nations seeks projects that:

  • Serve and understand the food insecurity needs of Native American, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian communities
  • Strengthen the Indigenous food system or build organizational capacity
  • Provide a clear plan of action with specific, measurable, and realistic goals and objectives
  • Present a logical program-implementation timeline and budget
  • Have the ability to track, measure, and share the impact of the project
  • Demonstrate the capacity or desire to source and distribute at least 5,000 pounds of food during the grant period



Grant Requirements

Grant Expectations

Evaluation & Reporting: Grantees will be required to submit a short narrative report that includes photos of their project along with a final budget expenditure report. A recorded video call may take the place in lieu of a final narrative report. These reports will enable First Nations and the American Express Foundation to: (1) gain a further understanding of projects addressing food insecurity within Indigenous communities; (2) tell grantee stories, including accomplishments, challenges, impact, and programming practices; and (3) measure the impact of funding support on grantee programs and overall food insecurity needs.


Application Q&A

This slideshow outlines the grant opportunity for interested applicants. Download it here.

Grant Writing Resources

First Nations has compiled a number of free resources related to the grant writing 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 grant-writing resources.


Should you have any additional questions about the RFP or this specific funding opportunity, please contact Richard Elm-Hill at relmhill@firstnations.org or at 360-303-3937.