Community Improvement, Capacity Building

First Nations Development Institute

Strengthening Native American Communities & Economies

aka First Nations

Longmont, CO

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

1984

President

Mr. Michael E. Roberts

Main Address

2432 Main St 2nd Floor

Longmont, CO 80501 USA

Formerly Known As

First Nations Financial Project

Keywords

Indian, Native American, Reservation, Grants, Economic Development, Indigenous, Research, Policy, Rural

EIN

54-1254491

 Number

5328264023

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

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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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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 Sustainable Development Goals

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Achieving Native Financial Empowerment

Nourishing Native Foods & Health

Advancing Household & Community Asset-Building Strategies

Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions

Investing in Native Youth

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Total number of grants awarded

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of organizations applying for grants

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Median grant amount

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Average grant amount

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of downloads of the organization's materials and explanations

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

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

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of convenings hosted by the organization

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Indigenous people

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.

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

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.

First Nations assesses our progress quantitatively and qualitatively. In terms of numbers, we track the number of Native communities and individuals directly and indirectly reached by our programs. We also monitor: how many Native groups and individuals are represented at our conferences, workshops, convenings, and webinars; the number of downloads of our publications; and the number of grant applications received and grants made. Over time, we can assess our and our grantees’ quantitative progress. For example, First Nations’ 2018 report, Outcomes Under the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI) - 2015 to 2017, documented that: *Over 85% of Native programs supported by First Nations’ grants are still in operation. *30,000+ Native people were served by projects including 4,000+ elders and 7,600+ youth; *299 community gardens were created; *44 farmers’ markets were created/sustained; *23 farm-to-school programs were created/sustained; *89 small businesses were created/sustained; *168 jobs and 143 internship opportunities were created. *Of the 5,000+ pounds of food harvested, 23% entered the market, earning $72,000+ in income for producers. Qualitatively, we ask our community partners for their feedback through questionnaires, surveys, focus groups and grantee reports. This information contributes to our research publications and documented case studies, and guides the ongoing development of our programs. We receive regular, unsolicited, and enthusiastic input from our partners. We know that without First Nations, many of the organizations or programs would not exist or would be greatly diminished. The effect on Native communities is heartwarming and lifechanging. For example, we heard from one of our Native Language Immersion Initiative grantees: “Our Ahtna language lessons are based on a significant part on our core values…our students’ social development reflects those values. They are kind and loving to each other and very respectful of our Elders. This project has helped reinforce those values.” In another example, one of our grantees that provided take-home backpacks of food to students reported: “There are many positive outcomes to be shared: happier students, more buy-in at the school, service learning, caring for each other, and genuine appreciation. Students have control over their own lives and that is far more powerful than anything else we can provide. Elementary students are coming to school for the backpacks. They are seeing school as a resource in their lives and it is improving their nutrition and overall quality of life.” Collectively, data enables First Nations to evaluate the specific models supported and the larger trends shaping the course of Indian Country to uncover best practices, lessons learned, and systemic barriers to asset control and retention in Native communities. Evaluation findings are shared with our community partners, funders, policymakers, the media and the general public.

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.

External Reviews

Accreditations

Charity Navigator 2016

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2016

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

Photos

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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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & 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 & 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

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity