$7 Million in Native Grants From Ford Foundation

Mark Fogarty

The Ford Foundation has made $7 million in grants in recent years for American Indian projects.

The nonprofit has made 16 grants to eight grantees since 2010, according to a search on the term “Native American” in its database.

One group, the Native American Community Board, has received four grants. Three were for $250,000 apiece and the fourth was for $66,000.

The three $250,000 grants were for “core support for the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center to address indigenous women's reproductive health and justice issues while working to preserve and protect their culture,” according to the foundation. These grants were awarded in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

The $66,043 grant in 2010 was “for a Native-women-run low power FM radio station serving reservation communities in South Dakota and northern Nebraska to meet the matching requirements of a federal grant and begin operations.”

The Native American Community Board is based in Lake Andes, South Dakota on the Yankton Sioux reservation. The group was started in 1985 “to protect the health and human rights of Indigenous Peoples pertinent to our communities through cultural preservation, education, coalition building, community organizing, reproductive justice, environmental justice, and natural resource protection while working toward safe communities for women and children at the local, national and international level.”

Native Americans in Philanthropy has gotten three grants, two for $250,000 and one for $200,000. The grants were awarded in 2011, 2014, and 2015 and all were basically for general support to advance philanthropic practices grounded in Native values and traditions.

The group, based in Minneapolis, says it “promotes reciprocity and investment in, with and for Native peoples to build healthy and sustainable communities for all.”

Three of the other awards by the Ford Foundation were for $1 million or more. Two went to the Sundance Institute, $1,120,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015. Both were for “the Documentary Film Program’s grant making and other activities to support the development of social-justice themed documentaries and for the Native American Program and the New Frontier Story Lab.”

Sundance, founded in 1981 by actor/director Robert Redford, has offices in Park City, Utah, Los Angeles and New York City.

The other $1-million-award, in 2010,  went to Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Inc. The money was for “support for board, staff and institutional development and grant making to revitalize, strengthen and promote Native American arts and culture.”

The non-profit, based in Vancouver, Washington, says it is “dedicated exclusively to the perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures nationwide.”

The Native American Rights Fund also has received two awards, totaling $1.68 million. Both were for “general support to defend and promote the legal rights of Native Americans on issues essential to their tribal sovereignty, their natural resources and their human rights.” NARF is a non-profit legal firm based in Boulder, Colorado.

Word searches for “American Indian,” “Alaska Native” and “Native Hawaiian” brought no hits from the foundation’s database.

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