The section of the US population that has been stuck with the highest level of poverty and the lowest life expectancy rate are Native Americans. Grant funds are now available to try and turn this drastic reality around and reverse the trends of poverty and illness in Native Americans.
The Federal government has allocated funds through such initiatives as the Indian Housing Block Grant Program (IHBG) through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but funds for grants can also be found through private organizations and foundations.
The Native American Grants Program developed and administered by Seva Foundation is a perfect example of this. The mission of Seva is to alleviate suffering suffering by disease and poverty. To this end, their Native American Grants Program supports projects in the US in six priority areas:
– Spiritual and Cultural Renewal
– Indigenous Youth
– Economic Development
– Health and Wellness
– Educational Development
– Protecting Mother Earth
Seva places emphasis on those projects neglected by other grant opportunities, and small, grassroots organizations. The grants they provide fall in the range of $ 2,000 to $ 5,000 with the average grant size $ 3,500. Examples of the grants they have awarded are:
$ 2,500 to the Tolowa Indians to transliterate the Tolowa language into the modern alphabet in order to reserve the language.
$ 5,000 to the Wounded Knee Community Council to help fund the construction of a cob house as a model of sustainable and affordable home-building for native communities living on reservations.
$ 2,500 to the Black Mesa Water Coalition to produce a three day leadership training summit for 130 youth from tribes throughout the southwest.
$ 10,000 to Dinah Bidziil Coalition for organizational support, which helped them co-produce the first Indigenous World Uranium Summit in 2006, where hundreds of international delegations called for a global ban on uranium mining.
When developing strategies and plans with respect to their Native American Grants Program, Seva works closely with leaders and activists in the Native community. The knowledge and expertise of the people guiding Seva is invaluable in incorporating cultural history and diversity into the grant program.