In these times, Native American families turn to trusted community organizations for support and resources. In turn, we want to generously support Native American nonprofits on the ground who are caring for our most vulnerable - relatives facing food insecurity, access to housing, and our low-income sacred elderly.
Edgar Villanueva, founder of Decolonizing Wealth Project launched a national rapid response effort to provide emergency support for the most vulnerable Native American families and communities in cities impacted by COVID-19.
Native American Community Response Fund is a rapid response fund working to deploy trust-based funding to urban and tribal Native-led organizations impacted by the pandemic. Initially, funding was focused on the 78% of Native Americans that reside off-reservations – in urban centers, where the pandemic is having higher rates of infection. These 1.2 million individuals reside in 13 metropolitan areas and often do not benefit from federal benefits directed towards tribal communities. As the pandemic is now hitting hard in our tribal communities, particularly Navaho and the Pueblos in New Mexico, we are expanding our focus to these hot spots.
Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate was 15.6%, almost double than the white population (8%). We can’t even begin to imagine the loss of employment in this moment. Ensuring that Native people, especially our elders, have safe, reliable shelter and access to food is critical to sustaining healthy communities and reducing trauma on our young people. Native people are already over-represented in homelessness and poor health outcomes.
Funding will be rapidly deployed to support Native-led nonprofits who have already been historically marginalized by philanthropy and achieve great impacts on shoestring budgets. We need to help them, so they continue to help our most at-risk. Native Americans in Philanthropy and others, such as the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, are partnering to accelerate philanthropic investment in Native communities.
In these difficult moments, we lean on each other. We come from generations of resilient people who practice reciprocity. At a time of crisis with a global pandemic, we rise up to protect our elders and the most vulnerable in our Native communities. This is about solidarity, not charity.
NOTE: funding is by-invitation only at this time. Given limited funds, funding decisions are guided by a group of Native American leaders based on information we are tracking about the pandemic and its impact on Native American communities. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to respond to every request or inquiry at this time. We’ll post additional information here as updates are available. Please visit Native Americans in Philanthropy COVID-19 Response page for additional resources, including other rapid response funds supporting Native-led organizations.