Indigenous Peoples

group of studentsThe idea that underpins Foundation programs in this area is that we strive to catalyze economic development by investing in entrepreneurship and business education and investing in capacity building for business and entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities.  The Foundation has nearly 30 years of experience with programs that work to give life to this idea.

Since 1992 our Entrepreneurship Scholarship program has provided scholarships to Indigenous students who study business or entrepreneurship. We invest about $500,000 annually on scholarships and another $100,000 to $200,000 on endowment building. The program began with students at tribal colleges, but the Foundation now funds Indigenous students at other institutions as well. Those institutions have a high number of Indigenous students and graduates.

In 2001 the Foundation requested that Gonzaga University develop an MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurship, and the Foundation provided full-ride scholarships for Indigenous students to attend. Since its inception, the program has produced more than 70 graduates. We know of no comparable program in the country.

The Foundation also has made capacity-building grants to aid the establishment of business and entrepreneurship training in Indigenous communities. Grant recipients include Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity through Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund, First Peoples Fund, Lakota Credit Union, Four Bands, and the Native CDFI network. The expectation is that these will complement our investments in education by enhancing the conditions and opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Indigenous Peoples Grant Making Strategy

Why we make grants in this focus area

We do so to catalyze growth and development in the communities of Indigenous Peoples, mainly through education, especially business education, and occasionally through institutions which support development of Indigenous business. All of the Foundation’s grants in this area are made to strengthen institutions that serve Indigenous Peoples.

Focus area theory of change

Indigenous Peoples face obstacles in obtaining education and employment. Helping individuals to obtain education and supporting education and business development leads to increased opportunities and better quality of life for individuals and ultimately to community growth and a stronger economic system.

Linkage to JSF Mission, Core Values, and JSF Theory of Change

JSF grants help people to obtain education and employment, which catalyzes growth and development. JSF employs a multitude of strategies, which link to mission, core values and theory of change in the following ways:

  1. Grants that provide scholarships to individuals to study business, entrepreneurship and occasionally professional education, and thereby catalyze individual and community growth;
  2. Grants that provide support to institutions that assist Indigenous entrepreneurs, and thereby catalyze business development and growth in individuals and communities; and
  3. Grants that support educational institutions which serve Indigenous Peoples, thereby catalyzing growth in individuals and communities.

Short-Term Outcomes
(1-3 Years)

There will be more Indigenous Peoples with access to post-secondary degrees and training, especially business and professional training.

There will be more institutional support for business and educational development in Indigenous communities.

Intermediate-Term Outcomes
(3-5 Years)

There will be more Indigenous Peoples who own or are employed in business and other professions.

There will be stronger institutions supporting business and educational development.

There will be more knowledge available to stimulate economic development, and capacity will have been increased to support this.

Long-Term Outcomes
(Over 5 Years)

More individuals will be equipped to address and solve systemic issues in Indigenous communities.

There will be stronger and more vibrant Indigenous economies evidenced by such indicators as increased ownership of homes, more development of business, increased linkages and support systems, and increased technology and physical assets.

Law and policies will have been changed to better support Indigenous communities’ economies.