Flagstaff, Arizona – Over the past two years, Native American non-profit leaders representing Arizona’s twenty-two federally recognized Tribes convened on the homelands of the Yavapai Apache Tribe to shape the trajectory of philanthropic support to Native Americans in partnership with the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF).
In their leadership positions as ACF Board Members, Barbara Poley (Laguna/Hopi) and Jacob Moore (Tohono O’odham) planted the seeds of the Native American Initiative to grow a culturally centric philanthropic framework designed to increase the responsive by philanthropic institutions to the high priority needs of tribal communities in collaboration with Arizona’s Native nonprofits.
Given the decline in philanthropic support for Native American priority issues, the NAI endorses the holistic and strategic framing to shape the relationship between Native non-profits and the philanthropic community in order to bring a better understanding of why Native non-profits center their work rooted in culture and values. A perspective not often understood by the foundation world
“Giving is regarded as reciprocal rather than a hierarchical distribution of wealth and is embedded in culture and traditions for the well-being of family, community members, and communities as a whole,” explains Melissa Begay, Native Public Media’s Operations Director with oversight over development.
In contrast, research by the First Nations Development Institute found annual foundation support "in the United States … to Native American organizations decreased by $35 million from 2006 to 2014, $119 to $84 million, respectively. Seventy-eight percent of total grant awards were $100,000 or less, and most were one-year grants awards."
“The NAI is driven by our purpose to “Ignite Culture to Cultivate Sacred, Healthy Communities” and will be the impetus and driving force to steward philanthropic support to Native American organizations,” states Begay.
ACF and NPM Board Member Barbara Poley quoted Kevin Hall to inspire participants to maintain the momentum of NAI, “your gifts are not about you, leadership is not about you, your purpose is not about you. A life of significance is about serving those in need of your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.”