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The First Nations Development Institute, a national nonprofit working to improve economic conditions for Native Americans, announced Thursday it received a  $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation. The two-year grant will be used to develop the Native American Fund for Health Equity aimed at increasing philanthropic investment to Native-led community organizations and tribes in Colorado. 

The Native American Fund for Health Equity’s goal is to help Native organizations and tribes pursue health equity on their own terms while building relationships with philanthropic institutions in Colorado. It will be led by a newly established Native American Advisory Committee made up of Native people from Colorado’s nonprofit sector and two Native nations, First Nations stated in a press release Thursday.  

“Native communities across the state are doing amazing work to promote health equity, including perpetuating Native languages and cultural practices,” said First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications Dr. Raymond Foxworth in the press release. “Sadly, this work is largely invisible and unsupported by philanthropic organizations in Colorado. We hope this fund generates greater attention leading to more investment in Native community innovation and resiliency.”

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Research shows that philanthropic institutions in Colorado have not historically given much support to Native communities. A recent report released by First Nations found only 0.1% of Colorado philanthropy is awarded to Native American community-based organizations in Colorado. It also found Native nonprofit leaders often have negative experiences interacting with the state’s philanthropic institutions.

“There is no doubt that Colorado philanthropy, and philanthropy more broadly, has done little to advance the health and well-being of Native communities,” said Sean Dollard, program officer at the Colorado Health Foundation, in the press release. “This landmark investment partnership with First Nations Development Institute represents a compelling pathway to focus the voice, power, and agency of Native leaders to act upon resonant self-determination — a pathway of healing, community-driven outcomes, and racial justice.”

The Native American Fund for Health Equity is a matching grant, meaning First Nations will work to match the grant over the next two years, resulting in a $3 million pooled fund for Native nations and Native-led organizations working to advance health equity. 

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from RxDestroyer, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the National Indian Health Board. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online.
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