Indigenous Peoples

The idea that underpins Foundation programs is that we should catalyze economic development by investing in entrepreneurship and business education and by investing in capacity building for business and entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities. The Foundation has more than 20 years of experience with programs that attempt to give life to this idea.

Our flagship is the Entrepreneurship Scholarship Program. Since 1992 it has provided scholarships to Indigenous students who study business or entrepreneurship. We spend about $500,000 annually on scholarships and another $100,000 to $200,000 on endowment building. In earlier years scholarship support was confined to tribal college students but the Foundation now funds Indigenous students at select off reservation institutions. These 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. That program has since produced over 50 graduates. We know of no comparable program in the country. Gonzaga assumed financial responsibility for this program several years ago, although the Foundation is currently in discussions with Gonzaga, which may lead to a substantial scholarship endowment for this program.

The Foundation has also made capacity building grants to aid the establishment of business and entrepreneurship training in Indegenous Communities. These grants include Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity through Entrepreneurship (CAPE), 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.

At Our Core

In addition to supporting the education of Indigenous peoples, the Foundation also supports the core programs: People with Disabilities and Economically Disadvantaged Students.

indigenous peoples grant making strategy