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Northwest Area Foundation awards grants

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Northwest Area Foundation announced the award of a two-year grant to the Native American Youth & Family Center of Portland, Ore. It is one of two grants announced Sept. 10 to help build capacity and programs to reduce poverty among urban American Indians and Alaska Natives. The other grant was made to the Native American Development Corp. of Billings, Mont.

''Poverty wears many faces, and some of those are often hidden from easy view,'' said Nichole Maher, executive director of the Native American Youth & Family Center. ''It is also true that the urban Indian community throughout the greater Portland area can enhance its abilities to reduce poverty and build prosperity in ways that are innovative and anchored in our culture,'' she said. ''This grant boosts opportunities to bring voices, perspectives and partners to the table to create lasting change.''

''We believe, and experience is demonstrating, that poverty reduction initiatives have greater chance of success if communities assume leadership in addressing poverty and intentionally develop the capacity to do so,'' said Kari Schlachtenhaufen, interim president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation. ''We are excited to make this grant and hope other funders and partners will join in this effort to reduce poverty long term.''

Over the next two years, NAYA will apply the $3.36 million grant to establish a model for sustainable poverty reduction based on a two-pronged approach: enhancing community resources for an integrated set of strategies, and improving advocacy for urban Native poverty reduction. The community resource development will address the lack of low-income housing and the need for effective work force development.

''Many foundations, our own included, search for initiatives that will bring deep and lasting benefit to families and communities,'' said Gary Cunningham, Northwest Area Foundation vice president for programs and chief program officer. ''We also look for communities and organizations that bring experience, innovation and systemic thinking to their efforts. We appreciate both the lessons we've learned in this grant-development process and the opportunity to support NAYA in work that will benefit generations,'' Cunningham said.