Grantees & Grantmaking | May 12, 2021

Native-Led Tanka Fund and NAYA Among Q1 Grantees Building More Equitable Economies

Q1 grantees are advancing a new normal that reimagines what’s possible for their communities to thrive.

With 31 grants totaling more than $2.5 million, Q1 grantees will expand and enhance their tailored, community-specific approaches to making change. And they’re each working toward a more equitable future for the communities they serve—which leads to a more just world for us all.

Across our service region—Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the 76 Native nations that share the same geography—our grantees are advancing change by responding to inequities in their communities.

Our grantees are Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and people in rural areas. They’re working to overcome the systemic racism, violence, inequity, and exclusion so starkly exposed by the pandemic and killings in our Twin Cities home of George Floyd and, more recently, Daunte Wright, at the hands of law enforcement.

We’re glad to support the work of these changemakers to restructure systems in their communities and better serve the resilient people who live, work, and grow there.

Take, for example, two of our Q1 grantees—Tanka Fund and Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)—whose missions extend beyond financial inclusion and access to ideals at the core of many Native Americans’ worldview: cultural wealth, wisdom, and human connection.

Tanka Fund builds back buffalo, and a community-centered economy.

Tanka Fund, a nonprofit based on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, aims to bring buffalo back to Indian Country by supporting Native buffalo ranchers’ efforts to establish, expand, and sustain operations.

A one-year, $250,000 general operating grant will help the Tanka Fund build capacity and financial access for buffalo ranchers—and launch a social enterprise initiative, the Tanka Resilient Agriculture Company (TRAC). TRAC will help ranchers write business and marketing plans for producers in the organic market.

Tanka Fund works to reverse the negative impacts of the government-initiated devastation of buffalo on the Lakota nation—impacts that began generations ago, and the results of which we’re still living with today.

Tanka Fund intends to restore the buffalo population in its region, revitalize buffalo as a main source of sustenance in the Native communities it serves, and build out the local economy and agriculture on the multiple reservations and Native lands across the country. This Native-led organization believes the return of the buffalo as a central part of Native life will lead to healthy lands, healthy people, and a healthy economy.

NAYA grounds services for urban Native Americans in culture and tradition.

Portland-based NAYA provides culturally specific programs and services aimed at personal success and balance through cultural empowerment. Its urban community is composed of numerous tribes.

NAYA’s Indigenous Wealth Building Plan supports Native families and entrepreneurs on a path to prosperity. A two-year, $500,000 grant will support programming aimed at two of NAYA’s principal goals: strengthening prosperity among, and providing housing services for, Portland’s urban Native American community. NAYA plans to grow its housing portfolio, improve property management and resident services, develop key partnerships to enhance its programs, and scale its model to serve more families.

Among its plans in the coming two years, NAYA is pursuing the redevelopment of Tistilal Village, a housing development built in the 1970s. NAYA’s redevelopment will create 58 affordable housing units, including 16 supportive housing units for low-income and formerly homeless Native families.

This effort and NAYA’s extensive slate of other services are steps toward its vision of a healthy, prosperous urban Native American community grounded in culture and tradition.

Q1 grantmaking also included five grants designated as crisis response emergency grants.

Totaling $525,000, this quarter’s crisis response grants address pressing current needs among our grantees’ communities—including COVID-19 relief and addressing racial inequities and unrest. Among those grantees are Minnesota-based Headwaters Foundation for Justice and Build Wealth MN Inc., plus Global to Local Health Initiative and Lummi Community Development Financial Institution in Washington State, and Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, SD.

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