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First Nations Receives $250,000 Grant from Northwest Area Foundation to Launch Two-Year "Changing Native Food Economies" Project

LONGMONT, Colorado (January 8, 2018) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced that it recently received a $250,000, two-year grant from Northwest Area Foundation to conduct a project called “Changing Native Food Economies” that aims to help develop strong, diverse and resilient tribal economies.

Under the effort, First Nations is creating a learning cohort of four tribes and/or Native-led nonprofits (three in Montana and one in Washington, which are within Northwest Area Foundation’s eight-state service area) that are actively engaged in food sovereignty and food systems activities or other asset-building initiatives. The cohort members, who will receive grants of $30,000 each, will share experiences and lessons learned from the community food self-assessments that each has conducted. They also will attend First Nations-hosted convenings to learn about best practices for research and methods to lay the groundwork for further project planning and implementation, and they will receive visits by First Nations personnel to provide onsite technical assistance to develop comprehensive plans that address each community’s unique population, entities and tribal policies.

The selected partners are The Center Pole (Garryowen, Montana); FAST Blackfeet (Food Access and Sustainability Team) (Browning, Montana); Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (La Conner, Washington); and Fort Belknap Community Economic Development Corporation (Harlem, Montana). They will identify economic opportunities within their community food systems that, if given adequate resources, would support the creation and/or expansion of businesses and jobs. In this case, adequate resources might include sustainable community connections and partnerships, as well as supportive tribal policies and processes.

Combining local data-gathering and analysis with technical assistance will provide the participants with opportunities to better understand local assets and how to create economic opportunities for tribal members. The work will include individualized evaluation metrics, indicators, processes and tools based on their respective objectives. These will include mechanisms to track community or market changes that may include partnerships created or strengthened, change in elevation of food and the economy, or other indicators.

At the end of the project, First Nations will document the effort’s process, learnings, outputs and outcomes, and publish a widely‐disseminated, nationally‐significant report that will highlight Northwest Area Foundation-funded models for systemic and policy changes.

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 37 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

About Northwest Area Foundation

Founded in 1934 and based in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Northwest Area Foundation supports organizations anchored in the culture of the people they serve and dedicated to expanding economic opportunity in under-resourced communities. Its grantees work to build on the entrepreneurial spirit, strong community ties, and untapped potential within Native nations, communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, rural areas, and other resilient communities who have fewer opportunities to thrive on their own terms. The work of grantees advances good jobs and financial capability across the Foundation’s region, which includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, and more than 75 Native nations. For more information, please visit


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