To support greater economic empowerment in tribal communities, the Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded nearly $13 million to nonprofits supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities as part of a five-year, $50 million commitment to expand its focus on tribal philanthropy. The funding will help increase homeownership, energy sovereignty and workforce development on tribal lands, promote development of native owned small businesses, and help build capacity for nonprofits to better serve their clients in Indian Country.
“Wells Fargo has been serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities for more than 50 years,” said Jon Campbell, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We believe it is important to support nonprofit and community organizations that empower tribal communities to determine their own way of life on their own lands — according to their time-honored cultures, traditions and beliefs — while also providing access to the tools and opportunities that can lead to financial success and well-being.”
The grants to 25 organizations range from $50,000 to $5 million and fall into four broad focus areas:
- Helping tribal members succeed financially. Grants to organizations like Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition and Cook Inlet aim to help tribal members build financial assets that can be passed from one generation to another or leveraged for post-secondary education or starting a business. Grants to ONABEN and American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund will promote entrepreneurship and development of native owned businesses.
- Advancing tribal homeownership. Grantees First Nations Oweesta, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Minnesota Housing Partnership and the National American Indian Housing Council are among several focused on tribal housing initiatives including down payment assistance, affordable housing solutions and expanding the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions.
- Advancing energy sovereignty. A $5 million grant to GRID Alternatives provides seed funding for the organization’s Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund to catalyze the growth of solar energy and job training opportunities on tribal lands.
- Capacity building for native nonprofits. Native nonprofits serving critical needs in Indian Country — including the National Indian Council on Aging, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the American Indian Engineering and Science Society — received awards to build their organizational capacity and expand services.
“We are very pleased to have added so many important and deserving organizations to our national philanthropy programs,” said Cora Gaane of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We consulted with numerous stakeholders in identifying where our funding could have the greatest impact, and we value the expertise they bring in addressing the unique social, economic and environmental issues in Indian Country.”
National nonprofit organizations serving individuals, families and businesses in Indian Country who wish to be considered for a grant under the foundation’s commitment should contact AIANPhilanthropy@wellsfargo.com to determine eligibility. Community-based, local 501(c)(3) organizations serving the American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can continue to apply for grants through Wells Fargo’s online tool.
The following organizations received funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation in 2018, the first year of Wells Fargo’s five-year commitment:
- Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corp.
- Americans for Indian Opportunity
- American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund
- American Indian College Fund
- American Indian Engineering and Science Society
- American Indian Graduate Center
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium
- Cook Inlet Lending Center
- Enterprise Community Partners
- First Nations Oweesta
- GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund
- Housing Assistance Council
- Indian Land Tenure Foundation
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation
- Minnesota Housing Partnership
- Native American Finance Officers Association
- National American Indian Housing Council
- National Congress of American Indians Fund
- National Indian Council on Aging
- Native Americans in Philanthropy
- Neighborhood Reinvestment
- Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition
- Operation Tiny Home
- Prosperity Now