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Since adopting a single, poverty-reduction focus in 1998, the Foundation has invested more than $200 million to this mission.

We believe the most effective way to move out of poverty is to have a good job and build assets for long-term prosperity. That is why we make grants to organizations that help low income people find and keep living wage jobs, and gain the know-how to build financial stability for their households or small businesses. We focus our grantmaking to benefit people struggling to make ends meet, especially people of color, immigrants, refugees and Native Americans in eight states.*

We accept grant proposals on an invitation-only basis, and would like to learn about your work. Please contact us at intro@nwaf.org or 888-904-9828.

This year, we will make clusters of grants in the following areas:

Building Assets and Wealth

Increasing assets – a savings account, education, a house, and a car – enables families to withstand financial difficulties and plan for the future.  For example, we support programs that help individuals and communities access:
•  Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
•  Matched savings such as Individual Development Accounts
•  Job training
•  Financial education and literacy
•  Creating new jobs  that pay a living wage
•  Small business development
•  Capital, particularly for the unbanked
•  Start or expand services of credit unions

Grants to Native Americans

Native American programs are great opportunities for philanthropic investments. Our grantmaking into Indian Country currently represents a minimum of 40 percent of new grants made in 2013. Innovative approaches we’re supporting include:
•  A pilot program to launch Native American employee-owned enterprises in order to create jobs and build the local economy in low-income reservation and urban Native communities
•  A pilot program to increase the impact of Native American nonprofit organizations through small grants, project-specific training, advocacy, and peer-center learning
•  Bolster the ability of Tribal colleges to contribute to economic development and healthy communities
•  Social entrepreneurship –  creating vibrant local economies through small business development and forging partnerships across private, tribal, and governmental sectors  to apply entrepreneurial principles to social challenges such as poverty

An estimated 60 percent of all Native Americans live in urban areas where they have more access to economic opportunities.

Grants to benefit urban Native Americans include:
•  Supporting nonprofit leadership development, strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness
•  Employment and tax services
•  Community-based economic development
•  Social entrepreneurship
•  Personal asset- and wealth-building strategies

Public Policy

People and communities in poverty often find that laws and regulations create barriers to getting ahead. We believe one of the most powerful ways to eliminate road blocks is to improve public policies that impact building assets and wealth. These are examples of the work we fund:
•  Civic engagement and public policy advocacy
•  Asset coalitions
•  Community organizing
•  Policy dialogues
•  Policy analysis

Leveraged Impact

Like most grantmakers, we know that society’s pressing needs and opportunities extend beyond the means of any one funder to address. We also recognize that there is a trove of experience, perspective, energy and ideas among funders and nonprofits working in the field. We strive to:
•  Collaborate with peer funders
•  Encourage innovative approaches
•  Support open discussions among thought-leaders and advocates, dialog that promotes robust relationships, creative thinking, inventive collaboration, and paradigm-shifting action.
•  Sharing lessons from our efforts and from other organizations

Northwest Area Foundation is committed to evaluating the grants and programs we support. We make it a priority to learn from our work and share lessons with others. We also value the insights of grantees and peer funders, agencies, business and civic leaders.  Society’s needs – and opportunities – are too great to operate without the energies, enthusiasm, perspectives and resources of like-minded organizations.

*Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon

Grant Inquiries: Phone: 888-904-9828, Email: grants@nwaf.org
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