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W.K. Kellogg Foundation names award recipients

Battle Creek, MI – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced the winners of the 2008 National Leadership in Action Award. Two of this year’s five recipients are organizations being honored for promoting economic and professional development in Native American communities.

The Seattle-based Potlatch Fund was selected “for its dedication in inspiring the Native tradition of giving in Northwest Indian country.” Alandra Washington, program director in philanthropy and volunteerism at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, said, “The Potlatch Fund has great public giving models which they promote throughout Indian country. They also promote leadership development, but they are a great model and a great example of a grass roots movement of philanthropy.”

Minneapolis-based Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAIP) was selected for the award “Because of the great work they are doing with their leadership development program and their support of Native Americans working in the field of philanthropy,” Washington said. NAIP was also honored for promoting, facilitating, and celebrating philanthropic giving to Native communities.

As recipients of the award, both organizations received a grant in the amount of $50,000 as well as an original painting by an emerging artist.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership in Action Award is in its third year and was established to recognize, celebrate and promote the great leadership work happening in communities of color by non-profit and philanthropic organizations, as well as public giving institutions. Winners were nominated by their peers and were screened by a committee of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders from across the United States.

“Traditionally philanthropic givers were seen as white men. About six years ago we realized there were new faces and new forces in philanthropy – and new forms of philanthropy – that were taking place. Looking through the lens of racial equity, we started to focus on diversity that exists in philanthropic giving that is taking place in communities of color,” said Washington. “Our working definition of philanthropy is time, money and know how; we are looking at how people can move from service to civics and become civically engaged in their communities. To address challenges and come up with solutions.”

Executive Director of the Potlatch Fund, Ken Gordon, said, “Granting foundations tell us they don’t get many applications from American Indian and Alaskan Native groups from Indian country in general. So we offer grant seeker training for Indian groups and offer financial management training and teach them how to set up a nonprofit.

In addition to that we teach them how to run the nonprofits, do governance trainings and workshops on strategic planning. We also work to educate foundations about Indian country because many of them have never been to a reservation or a tribal community.”

The Potlatch Fund works with tribes in the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. “In the few years the Potlatch Fund has been working in the Pacific Northwest, the Native American and Alaskan Native groups are getting 1.5 percent of grants from mainstream foundations, five times higher than the national average. We don’t claim that is because of us, but something is happening in this community and I think we have helped a bit,” said Gordon.

The name Potlatch comes from the coastal Salish tribe of American Indians and has a meaning similar to a traditional giveaway. “There is a saying that people are not known by what they have, but by what they have given away during the course of their life. The traditional potlatch is something akin to the western notion of philanthropy,” he said.

Executive Director of Native Americans in Philanthropy, Joy Persall, said, “It is an honor to be in that group of organizations receiving the award and to be so highly regarded by an organization like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We are honored and humbled to receive the National Leadership in Action Award knowing that we were in the running with a lot of dynamic and wonderful organizations.”

“To our nonprofit organization, philanthropy is really about the giving of time, people and resources in service to our communities. It is so much more than money. A lot of our work is about helping people understand the assets that we as Native people have and how to create relationships that will make our communities better, stronger places,” she said.

The other three recipients of the award were: The Twenty-First Century Foundation, New York, N.Y.; Access, Dearborn, Mich.; and the Rose Community Foundation, Denver, Colo.

The foundation’s vision is to support children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that will propel vulnerable children towards success in their communities and society. According to Washington, the foundation gives away about $300 million dollars in grants each year.

For more information and to watch a short movie clip of the five winners, visit www.wkkf.org or www.culturesofgiving.org. To learn more about the Potlatch Fund visit www.potlatchfund.org and for more information about NAIP visit www.native philanthropy.org.