First Nations Development Institute's mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. In our vision, sovereign Indigenous communities control their physical, economic, social, cultural, political, and human assets. First Nations trusts in the inherent wisdom of Native communities themselves. We believe that only solutions designed by Native peoples, for Native peoples, through the control of their assets and based on their cultural values, will succeed. In keeping with this belief, First Nations' board is 100% Native American and our staff is majority Native. Therefore, we as an organization understand the complexities of Native America.... read more First Nations Development Institute's mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. In our vision, sovereign Indigenous communities control their physical, economic, social, cultural, political, and human assets. First Nations trusts in the inherent wisdom of Native communities themselves. We believe that only solutions designed by Native peoples, for Native peoples, through the control of their assets and based on their cultural values, will succeed. In keeping with this belief, First Nations' board is 100% Native American and our staff is majority Native. Therefore, we as an organization understand the complexities of Native America. Our services are provided in a culturally appropriate manner. First Nations' core values and guiding principles (available at www.firstnations.org/GuidingPrinciples) embody our approach to our work: *Serving, believing in, and investing in Native communities; *Valuing, empowering, and respecting our staff; *Not being afraid to take risks and challenge the status quo; *Committing to transparency, accountability and the highest ethical standards; and *Treating the resources entrusted to us on behalf of Indian Country as sacred. We are striving toward: *Native communities that enjoy a locally-supported, healthy, and diverse economy; *Native families and youth that are grounded in their cultures and Indigenous languages, fostering social and mental health; *Native community members that have access to healthy, sufficient, and locally-produced foods; *Financially-capable Native families and youth who can successfully manage household budgets and savings; *Native-controlled institutions - nonprofit organizations, community groups, and tribes - that are stable, sustainable, and providing services to their communities; and *Policies and systems that support Native control of Native assets. First Nations' work is nationally-based and serves a diversity of tribes and Native organizations working on numerous issues. First Nations is an intermediary that primarily works with tribal governments, Native American-controlled nonprofit organizations, and Native community groups. Building local institutions such as these helps to build the infrastructure of Native communities and to introduce systemic solutions. The Native families, children, and individuals served by these groups receive physical, environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural benefits. Our approach translates assets into jobs, health, food security, family financial management, education and more. First Nations designs our programs in response to Native community needs as expressed by tribes and Native-controlled organizations and programs. Our emphasis on community-driven efforts that directly respond to community-identified needs means that we invest in and leverage resources for varied and diverse Indian Country-controlled ventures which are on the cutting edge of Native community, economic, and policy development. In all we do, First Nations acknowledges and elevates the community-based models of our grassroots partners. First Nations builds the ability of tribes, Native American nonprofit organizations and Native community groups to control, retain, utilize, create, increase, and leverage their assets. First Nations invests in Indian Country's greatest assets - its people, and their resilience, intelligence, and ingenuity - and catalyzes additional philanthropic focus on and giving to Native Americans. First Nations creates and boosts innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities. We serve Native communities throughout the United States, both in urban and rural areas. Through our three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations offers: 1) Technical Assistance & Training; 2) Coalition-Building; 3) Advocacy; 4) Policy & Research; and 5) Direct Financial Support through Grantmaking. Our six integrated program areas are: *Nourishing Native Foods & Health: To increase access to healthy food, First Nations supports tribes and Native communities as they build sustainable food systems that improve health, alleviate hunger, strengthen food security, improve the environment, and increase control over Native agriculture. *Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions: First Nations provides tribes and Native communities with the tools and resources to create new community-based nonprofit organizations and to strengthen the capacity of existing nonprofits and tribal programs. *Investing in Native Youth: Our Native Youth and Culture Fund and our Native Language Immersion Initiative support projects that infuse Native youth with their traditions and languages to prepare them for an empowered adulthood guided by their cultures and linked to their families and communities. *Advancing Households & Community Asset Building Strategies: First Nations works with national and local partners to identify, develop, and implement household and community asset-building strategies that move families and communities toward financial security. *Achieving Native Financial Empowerment: First Nations' financial education and investor education curricula help Native individuals and families master and practice wise financial management. *Stewarding Native Lands: The goal of the Stewarding Native Lands program is to provide financial and technical assistance to support Native ecological stewardship and improve Native control of and access to ancestral lands and resources to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of Native communities. First Nations' expertise lies in providing training, technical assistance and financial assistance and in conducting advocacy to promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities in Indian Country. In Educating Grassroots Practitioners, First Nations: provides individualized and specialized technical assistance through site visits and virtually; provides group trainings through nationally-significant and -relevant conferences, workshops and webinars; and produces high quality publications/educational resources. Our education efforts help to build strong community organizations and programs that are well-managed, provide effective services, and are sustainable. First Nations brings together Native organizations and tribes that often operate in isolation from each other, and creates opportunities for peer learning. In Advocating For Systemic Change, First Nations' policy and advocacy work champions bottom-up approaches to build power in Native communities. We advocate for tribes' peer-to-peer consultation with the federal government, enforcement of treaty rights, and development of policies to prioritize tribal communities and lifeways. At the national level, First Nations is aware that in our interactions with federal policymakers we are speaking on behalf of Native interests, so we strive to ensure that the best interests of tribal governments as well as grassroots Native communities are represented. First Nations encourages the larger philanthropic community to overcome their overall lack of familiarity with Native American issues and to recognize, through their increased giving, the worthiness of Native-led programs and organizations. In Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations provides grants that augment our priority of educating grassroots practitioners. First Nations' grantmaking represents high-risk, early-stage investment - often the first money invested - in many reservation-based, community development projects. These grassroots partners inform our learning and advocacy, and ensure that our research, policy efforts, and future work are based on Native communities' realities.
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