Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

First Nations Reports Continuing Unmet Funding Need for Native American Food-System Projects

LONGMONT, Colorado (May 22, 2018) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today released an updated report on grantmaking trends under its Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI) for the years 2015-2017. This is an update of the original NAFSI trend report that First Nations previously published covering the years 2011-2014.

The report provides valuable insights that can be helpful for foundations and other funding entities seeking to invest critically-needed capital into Native American food-system projects that can lead to improved health, diet and nutrition, as well as economic development and cultural preservation.

The new report, Nourishing Native Foods and Health: Grantmaking Trends from the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative 2015-2017, notes that since NAFSI began in 2002, First Nations has awarded 307 grants totaling more than $7.58 million to Native organizations dedicated to increasing food access and improving the health and nutrition of Native children and families. This number, however, pales in comparison to the more than 1,450 requests received totaling more than $49.7 million over that time, illustrating that a huge unmet need for funding for these types of projects continues in Native communities.

From 2015 to 2017 alone, under 18 funding opportunities, First Nations received a total of 713 proposals, totaling more than $19.5 million, to support Native food-systems work. But during that period First Nations was only able to provide $4 million in funding to Native communities, or only 20.5% of the funds requested. Although that was more than the previous report period of 2011-2014 (during which First Nations was able to fund only 7.18% of requests received with $1.73 million in grants), it still fell well short of meeting the critical needs in Indian Country. Nonetheless, the improvement between periods was due to numerous additional funders generously providing financial support over the past three years.

Among other trends detailed in the report are that Native-run nonprofit organizations continue to be major players in contributing to food-systems work, comprising 49% of requests; that, geographically, there are some noticeable regional shifts in requests for food-systems funding; and that many projects are community-based with an intersectional focus on community outreach and education.

"The food sovereignty movement in Indian Country has continued to grow and gain momentum since the release of the 2014 report," noted A-dae Romero-Briones, First Nations' Director of Programs for Native Agriculture and Food Systems. "This report not only highlights this strong and healthy movement but also provides a grounding point for funders and donors looking to invest in this arena and in Native communities. Nationwide 'local food movements' have been rising in both rural and urban areas and in Native and non-Native communities. Individuals from all backgrounds are looking to reconnect with their food and address issues of food insecurity and diet-related illnesses. Native communities must not be forgotten in this movement."

The full report can be downloaded for free from the First Nations website at (Please note that if you don't already have one, you will need to create a free online account to download the report.)

About First Nations Development Institute

For nearly 38 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


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