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 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 $500,000 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 American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL), Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity through Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund, Lakota Funds, 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.

JSF Grant Making Strategy

JSF makes grants to organizations that help people overcome barriers to education and employment. Addressing these barriers enables them to graduate and find good jobs, thereby contributing to and enriching their communities.

JSF assists people indirectly by making grants to schools, universities, and non-profits, and funds initiatives such as scholarships, mentoring, tutoring and internships. Grants are focused on three areas: individuals with disabilities, individuals with financial need, and Indigenous peoples.