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Northwest Area Foundation Grants $3.3M to Spur Economic Opportunities

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A benchmark-setting scan of economic potential and projects in 75 Indian Nations will highlight financial, institutional, natural, human capital and political assets that are ripe for development. A two-year, $500,000 grant to First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado, will fund an internal database and three public reports on asset-building opportunities in sectors such as arts, energy, food systems and cooperative business models in Native communities. The research will be used to uncover emerging trends, areas of progressive development and best practices. This is one of 27 grants totaling $3.3 million Northwest Area Foundation announced in the second quarter of 2013.

“The time is right to take a hard look at the undeveloped potential for creating jobs and economic prosperity on Native American tribal lands and beyond. The grants we are announcing offer a mix of strategies designed to help low-income workers move to living wage jobs and develop the skills needed to build personal financial stability,” said Kevin Walker, president and CEO of Northwest Area Foundation.

A separate three-year grant of $500,000 to the Hopa Mountain Foundation of Bozeman, Montana, will support Native nonprofit leaders in their efforts to improve education, ecological health, and economic development. A portion of the grant will expand a fellowship program for Native youth interested in working in the Native nonprofit sector. A two-year, $300,000 grant to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) seeks to build on NCAI’s unique relationship with tribal leaders and Native organizations to strengthen tribal economies. The project is designed to empower tribal leaders to implement strategies that advance prosperity in reservation communities throughout the Foundation’s region.

The Foundation has committed a minimum of 40 percent of its grant portfolio in 2013 to Native American programs and Native-operated nonprofit organizations working to build community and individual financial know-how, access to capital, and entrepreneurial skills.

Additional grants to support asset-building work in non-Native communities include:

Build Wealth, MN of Minneapolis will receive $150,000 over two years to establish a community development financial institution and to provide financial education and access to credit for low-income people.

Cookie Cart of Minneapolis will receive $100,000 over two years to support a youth social entrepreneurship project focused on teen employment and training.

Homes of Oakridge Human Services Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, will receive $150,000 over two years for intensive job training and placement for refugees and hard-to-place workers.

The Seattle Foundation of Seattle will receive $500,000 over two years for work to increase economic opportunities in low-income communities. The grant will also invest in the Funders Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an initiative to provide affordable housing, economic, and transportation opportunities.

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Ujamaa Place of St. Paul, Minn., will receive $150,000 over two years to provide job training for economically disadvantaged African American men.?

Additional grants to improve public policy include:

Great Plains Institute of Minnesota and North Dakota will receive $139,200 for convenings in North Dakota to gather input on policy recommendations for North Dakota’s oil and gas Legacy Fund.

Oregon Business Council Charitable Institute of Portland, Ore., will receive $500,000 over three years on behalf of the Oregon Prosperity Initiative. The grant will support regional pilot projects designed to improve job prospects for low-wage workers and to educate the public on the costs of poverty and prosperity.

For a full list of the 27 grants announced in the second of 2013 quarter, visit

The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts by the people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity. The Foundation’s region includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon and more than 70 sovereign Tribal Nations that share the same geography.The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, operated in this area. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. For more information, please visit