First Nations receives $1.35 million grant from Henry Luce Foundation

In March 2018, grantees and First Nations staff members met to discuss the “Supporting Community Intellectuals in Native Communities” project at First Nations' headquarters in Longmont, Colorado. Included are Shelly Fryant, Rene Dubay and Michael Munson of Salish Kootenai College, Carnell Chosa and Regis Pecos of Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute, and Darren Kipp of The Piegan Institute. From First Nations are Michael Roberts, Raymond Foxworth, Catherine Bryan and Marsha Whiting.Photo courtesy: First Nations Development Institute

Press Pool

Luce Foundation grant to fund fellowship program supporting intellectual leadership in Native American communities

News Release

First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has received a grant of $1.35 million over two years from the Henry Luce Foundation to fund a fellowship program that will support intellectual leadership in Native American communities. The fellowship program will support 10 outstanding Native Americans who hail from a wide variety of fields and who utilize different modes of expression in communicating their knowledge and work.

“We are honored and excited to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation to support the diverse array of knowledge makers and knowledge keepers in Native communities,” said Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO of First Nations. “The beauty of this project is that it will support and convene community leaders – from cultural and community intellectuals working to perpetuate traditional arts, Native languages and foods, to intellectual leaders working on economic development, climate change and other contemporary or Western manifestations of intellectual leadership. We hope that by investing in Native leadership, Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems will be supported for the benefit of Native communities and beyond.”

The goal of this fellowship will be to identify, support and convene Native American intellectual leaders who embody exceptional creativity and progressive and critical thinking, and who have the potential to significantly move forward their fields in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Native communities and beyond. Core to this program is supporting Native individuals who are engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge that advances their respective field or area of expertise.

For this fellowship, Native intellectual leadership is defined broadly and will include cultural leaders, media makers, scientists, health professionals, academics, curators, artists, writers, and policy makers, among others. The work of these leaders may take many forms, including journalism, visual art, film and video, speeches or sermons, educational curricula, music or theater, formal scholarship or research, public health strategies, legal arguments, fiction, policy analysis, etc.

"This initiative marries two of the Henry Luce Foundation’s core commitments: a commitment to the development of leaders and a commitment to the public dissemination of knowledge," said Sean T. Buffington, Vice President at the Henry Luce Foundation in New York City. "We believe, with our colleagues at First Nations, that knowledge and ideas have the power to transform communities at the local, national and global levels, but only if that knowledge and those ideas are put into the hands of communities. By investing in leaders who create new knowledge and share that knowledge publicly, we can empower the communities that those leaders address and serve."

In launching this new program, First Nations will also select and convene an eight-member advisory committee of distinguished intellectual leaders who will participate in program design and selection of fellows. The committee members will be distinguished knowledge makers and knowledge keepers themselves, and they will have deep knowledge of Indigenous culture and broad experience working in and with Native communities.

A formal application process will be launched in the fall of 2019. Individuals interested in the fellowship may apply directly or be nominated. Each fellow will receive $50,000 to advance her or his work. The fellows will also gather together three times during the fellowship year to learn from one another. All fellows will be eligible to seek an additional $25,000 to continue their work in the year after the fellowship.

(To be informed of when the application period opens in 2019, please regularly check the First Nations website, subscribe to First Nations’ emails at this link, or follow First Nations on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.)

About First Nations Development Institute
For 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

About the Henry Luce Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding.

The Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy.

Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., the Foundation’s earliest work honored his parents, missionary educators in China. The Foundation’s programs today reflect the value Mr. Luce placed on learning, leadership, and long-term commitment in philanthropy.

The Henry Luce Foundation, a private independent foundation, is a nonprofit corporation operating under the laws of the State of New York.


Press Pool