First Nations Development Institute

Strengthening Native American Communities & Economies

aka First Nations   |   Longmont, CO   |  http://www.firstnations.org

Mission

Our mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. We invest in and create innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.

With the support of individuals, foundations, corporate and tribal donors, First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through technical assistance and training, advocacy and policy, and direct financial grants in five key areas:

• Achieving Native Financial Empowerment
• Investing in Native Youth
• Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions
• Advancing Household and Community Asset-Building Strategies
• Nourishing Native Foods and Health

Ruling year info

1984

President

Mr. Michael E. Roberts

Main address

2432 Main St 2nd Floor

Longmont, CO 80501 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

First Nations Financial Project

EIN

54-1254491

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (S05)

Rural (S32)

Community Foundations (T31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Native Americans – arguably this country’s most vulnerable and under-represented population – face the highest unemployment, poorest housing conditions, highest poverty levels, and poorest health of any group in the country (including other minorities). Disempowering federal policies and 200 years of colonization have stripped Native communities of assets (such as land, natural resources, cultures, and money) and decimated their economies – set ironically in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. To re-build the ability of tribes, Native American nonprofit organizations and Native community groups to control their assets requires specialized programs and models tailored to unique Native circumstances. In addition, systemic change at the community, tribal, and federal levels is needed to address policy and institutional barriers that hinder Native Americans’ ability to ensure their sustainable economic, spiritual, social, cultural, and political well-being.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Achieving Native Financial Empowerment

First Nations Development Institute and its independent subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation (a community development financial institution), work in partnership with Native American tribes and communities throughout the U.S. to assist them in designing and administering financial and investor education programs. Our projects range from helping individuals and families understand the basics of financial management – opening and maintaining a bank account and using credit wisely – to helping individuals understand financial markets and a variety of financial instruments for borrowing and saving.

Learning how to manage finances ensures that Native people will be more likely to save and invest. Our programs result in increased investment levels and economic growth in Native communities.

First Nations Development Institute uses the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum, which was originally developed by First Nations Development Institute and the Fannie Mae Foundation. For more information about this publication, visit our Knowledge Center.

First Nations Development Institute also coordinates the InvestNative online investor education project (more information can be found at www.investnative.org.)

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

First Nations Development Institute recognizes that accessing healthy food is a challenge for many Native American children and families. Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach. To increase access to healthy food, we support tribes and Native communities as they build sustainable food systems that improve health, strengthen food security and increase the control over Native agriculture and food systems. First Nations provides this assistance in the form of financial and technical support, including training materials, to projects that address agriculture and food sectors in Native communities.

First Nations also undertakes research projects that build the knowledge and understanding of Native agriculture and food systems issues, and inform Native communities about innovative ideas and best practices. We also participate in policy forums that help develop legislative and regulatory initiatives within this sector. First Nations supports a regional and national network of Native food sector and related organizations.

Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative
Since 2002, First Nations has awarded 216 grants totaling over $5.6 million to Native organizations dedicated to increasing food access and improving the health and nutrition of Native children and families. The Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI) grants are intended to help tribes and Native communities build sustainable food systems such as community gardens, food banks, food pantries and/or other agricultural projects related to Native food-systems control. These grants were made possible by the generous support of AARP Foundation, The Christensen Fund, CHS Foundation, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Advocacy and Outreach, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Walmart Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

First Nations Development Institute works with our national and local partners to identify, develop and implement household and community asset-building strategies that empower Native people. Working with our community partners in tribal colleges and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), we share ideas through peer learning and we finance program development through our grantmaking program. Working with our national and regional partners, we have helped share information about household asset-building programs such as Individual Development Accounts, Children’s Savings Accounts, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites. We also conduct research on issues related to predatory lending in Native communities and work to raise awareness of this problem. First Nations’ programs help move families and communities toward financial security.

To create systemic economic change, First Nations also works with Native American communities to develop new businesses and services, and reclaim direct control of assets. We seek to help communities understand, create and control the way in which Native assets are valued, as well as the decision-making process in deciding whether to monetize those assets.

First Nations and its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, work with reservation and rural Indian communities to create and support CDFIs, Native businesses and tribal programs with early-stage investments and capitalization to stimulate business growth through new financial models, products and services. Through entrepreneurship and business-development projects targeted at both the tribal (macro) and individual (micro) levels, First Nations creates and supports sustainable economic development in Native communities.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

Through grant support, technical assistance and training, First Nations provides tribes and Native communities with the tools and resources necessary to create new community-based nonprofit organizations and to strengthen the capacity of existing nonprofits and tribal agencies or departments. For more than 35 years, First Nations has supported hundreds of model projects that help revitalize Native communities, while integrating social empowerment and economic strategies. First Nations believes that by bolstering tribal and community institutions, we are helping to build economically stronger and healthier Native communities for the long term.

First Nations' L.E.A.D. Institute Conference
An essential component of First Nations' nonprofit capacity-building strategy is our Leadership, Entrepreneurial, and Apprenticeship Development (L.E.A.D.) Institute Conference that trains emerging and existing Native nonprofit leaders, including staff members from many of our grantee organizations. For 20 years First Nations has held an annual L.E.A.D. Institute Conference for Native American nonprofit professionals, tribal leaders and anyone interested in Native nonprofits, business and philanthropy. We widely publicize each year's conference, which is usually held in September or October.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

First Nations believes that Native youth represent the future of Native communities, and that their health and well-being determines the future health and well-being of a community overall. By investing in youth and giving them a sense of place and tradition in the community, a community ensures that it will have bright and capable future leaders. First Nations invests in Native youth and their families through many programs, but the cornerstone of our youth efforts is the Native Youth and Culture Fund, which annually provides grant support to numerous youth-related projects. We also have a range of financial education programs that are geared toward Native youth, including the Crazy Cash City reality fair and the $pending Frenzy workshop. The goal is to provide programs that meet youth where they are, support them in accomplishing their goals and dreams, and prepare them for an empowered adulthood guided by their cultures, families and traditions.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples

Where we work

Accreditations

Charity Navigator 2020

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2020

Awards

National Leadership in Action Award 2007

W. K. Kellogg Foundation

Wilmer Shields Rich Gold Award - Annual or Biennial Reports 2011

Council on Foundations

Wilmer Shields Rich Silver Award - Newsletters 2011

Council on Foundations

Wilmer Shields Rich Silver Award - Annual or Biennial Reports 2010

Council on Foundations

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2020 numbers include 291 COVID-related emergency grants

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2020 figures include $3.1 million for COVID-related emergency grants

Number of organizations applying for grants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Median grant amount

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Average grant amount

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of downloads of the organization's materials and explanations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Some Download history for 2019 was lost during migration to a new website.

Number of people educated through Convenings, Webinars & Conferences

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of convenings hosted by the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Indigenous peoples

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Convenings include: capacity building trainings, technical trainings, technical assistance and conference workshops.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

First Nations Development Institute’s mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities.

In our vision, sovereign Indigenous communities control their physical, economic, social, cultural, political, and human assets.

First Nations trusts in the inherent wisdom of Native communities themselves. We believe that only solutions designed by Native peoples, for Native peoples, through the control of their assets and based on their cultural values, will succeed.

In keeping with this belief, First Nations’ board is 100% Native American and our staff is majority Native. Therefore, we as an organization understand the complexities of Native America. Our services are provided in a culturally appropriate manner.

First Nations’ core values and guiding principles (available at www.firstnations.org/GuidingPrinciples) embody our approach to our work:
*Serving, believing in, and investing in Native communities;
*Valuing, empowering, and respecting our staff;
*Not being afraid to take risks and challenge the status quo;
*Committing to transparency, accountability and the highest ethical standards; and
*Treating the resources entrusted to us on behalf of Indian Country as sacred.

We are striving toward:
*Native communities that enjoy a locally-supported, healthy, and diverse economy;
*Native families and youth that are grounded in their cultures and Indigenous languages, fostering social and mental health;
*Native community members that have access to healthy, sufficient, and locally-produced foods;
*Financially-capable Native families and youth who can successfully manage household budgets and savings;
*Native-controlled institutions – nonprofit organizations, community groups, and tribes – that are stable, sustainable, and providing services to their communities; and
*Policies and systems that support Native control of Native assets.

First Nations’ work is nationally-based and serves a diversity of tribes and Native organizations working on numerous issues. First Nations is an intermediary that primarily works with tribal governments, Native American-controlled nonprofit organizations, and Native community groups. Building local institutions such as these helps to build the infrastructure of Native communities and to introduce systemic solutions. The Native families, children, and individuals served by these groups receive physical, environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural benefits.

Our approach translates assets into jobs, health, food security, family financial management, education and more.

First Nations designs our programs in response to Native community needs as expressed by tribes and Native-controlled organizations and programs. Our emphasis on community-driven efforts that directly respond to community-identified needs means that we invest in and leverage resources for varied and diverse Indian Country-controlled ventures which are on the cutting edge of Native community, economic, and policy development.

In all we do, First Nations acknowledges and elevates the community-based models of our grassroots partners. First Nations builds the ability of tribes, Native American nonprofit organizations and Native community groups to control, retain, utilize, create, increase, and leverage their assets. First Nations invests in Indian Country’s greatest assets – its people, and their resilience, intelligence, and ingenuity – and catalyzes additional philanthropic focus on and giving to Native Americans.

First Nations creates and boosts innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities. We serve Native communities throughout the United States, both in urban and rural areas.

Through our three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations offers:
1) Technical Assistance & Training;
2) Coalition-Building;
3) Advocacy;
4) Policy & Research; and
5) Direct Financial Support through Grantmaking.

Our five integrated program areas are:
*Nourishing Native Foods & Health: To increase access to healthy food, First Nations supports tribes and Native communities as they build sustainable food systems that improve health, alleviate hunger, strengthen food security, improve the environment, and increase control over Native agriculture.
*Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions: First Nations provides tribes and Native communities with the tools and resources to create new community-based nonprofit organizations and to strengthen the capacity of existing nonprofits and tribal programs.
*Investing in Native Youth: Our Native Youth and Culture Fund and our Native Language Immersion Initiative support projects that infuse Native youth with their traditions and languages to prepare them for an empowered adulthood guided by their cultures and linked to their families and communities.
*Advancing Households & Community Asset Building Strategies: First Nations works with national and local partners to identify, develop, and implement household and community asset-building strategies that move families and communities toward financial security.
*Achieving Native Financial Empowerment: First Nations’ financial education and investor education curricula help Native individuals and families master and practice wise financial management.

First Nations' expertise lies in providing training, technical assistance and financial assistance and in conducting advocacy to promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities in Indian Country.

In Educating Grassroots Practitioners, First Nations: provides individualized and specialized technical assistance through site visits and virtually; provides group trainings through nationally-significant and -relevant conferences, workshops and webinars; and produces high quality publications/educational resources. Our education efforts help to build strong community organizations and programs that are well-managed, provide effective services, and are sustainable. First Nations brings together Native organizations and tribes that often operate in isolation from each other, and creates opportunities for peer learning.

In Advocating For Systemic Change, First Nations’ policy and advocacy work champions bottom-up approaches to build power in Native communities. We advocate for tribes’ peer-to-peer consultation with the federal government, enforcement of treaty rights, and development of policies to prioritize tribal communities and lifeways. At the national level, First Nations is aware that in our interactions with federal policymakers we are speaking on behalf of Native interests, so we strive to ensure that the best interests of tribal governments as well as grassroots Native communities are represented. First Nations encourages the larger philanthropic community to overcome their overall lack of familiarity with Native American issues and to recognize, through their increased giving, the worthiness of Native-led programs and organizations.

In Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations provides grants that augment our priority of educating grassroots practitioners. First Nations' grantmaking represents high-risk, early-stage investment – often the first money invested – in many reservation-based, community development projects. These grassroots partners inform our learning and advocacy, and ensure that our research, policy efforts, and future work are based on Native communities’ realities.

First Nations is recognized as being among the most well-managed nonprofit organizations in the country. In 2019, First Nations’ professional oversight and accountability earned the top 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for the eighth year in a row. We continue our affiliation with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance and have achieved the Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency.

Our achievements include:
*Infusing hundreds of Native nonprofit organizations and programs with much-needed funds and capacity building, allowing Native communities to develop their own innovative solutions. For each grant we make, our community partners raise at least $1 more – so the total impact of our grantmaking through 2019 is $75+ million.
*Creating a locally-strong and nationally-networked Native food systems movement to shore up Native economies, focus on family and children's health, eliminate hunger and food insecurity, and preserve Native cultures and traditions.
*Bringing culturally appropriate financial education to Native families that are historically vulnerable to predatory lending so they may learn to use credit wisely, invest safely, achieve homeownership and create assets.
*Initiating specialized asset-building strategies that allow families to increase household savings, manage money wisely, and focus on a financially stable future for homeownership, education, and retirement.
*Building healthy Native economies by supporting entrepreneurs, food- and agriculture-focused ventures, Native artists, and more.
*Securing policy changes at the federal level to increase tribal control of tribal assets and sparking tribal policy development in keeping with cultural values.
*Moving forward the Native environmental justice movement and revitalizing traditional Native natural resource stewardship practices, often alongside and in a complementary manner to Western methods. Dozens of Native communities have benefited from First Nations’ grants and technical assistance which support balancing respect for the environment with development and which prioritize health and traditions over unsustainable exploitation.

Upcoming priorities for First Nations will include:
*Messaging and public relations to counter pervasive negative narratives about Native Americans and to communicate messages to positively impact public opinion and correct misperceptions/myths about Native people and communities. The public’s misunderstanding and unfamiliarity with Native peoples contributes to lack of both funding and decisionmakers’ support for favorable policies.
*Support for Native artists, the preservation of Native languages, and linking Native youth to their cultural practices. Art, languages, and traditions are the heart and soul of Native communities. Ensuring that a new generation of tribal members build a positive cultural identity will fortify them with resiliency in the face of life’s struggles.
*Emphasizing Native practices of sustainable natural resource management as well as community food systems. These are key assets for family and environmental health, local economies, and cultural expression. Native communities will provide valuable leadership in the face of climate change.
*Making sure our organization has the strength, in terms of management, finances, and vision, to serve Native communities as they deserve.

Financials

First Nations Development Institute
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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First Nations Development Institute

Board of directors
as of 6/23/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Benny Shendo

NB3 Consulting

Term: 2016 -

Gelvin Stevenson

Consultant

Marguerite Smith

Attorney/Private Practice

Michael Roberts

First Nations Development Institute

Chandra Hampson

No Affiliation

Shyla Sheppard

Consultant

Benny Shendo

NB3 Consulting

Susan Jenkins

No Affiliation

Monica Nuvamsa

Hopi Foundation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/04/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Native American/American Indian/Indigenous
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/04/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.