Produced by Workforce Grantmaking in Native Nations and Communities (WGNNC), an initiative of Workforce Matters, this guide provides those working in philanthropy and other key allies and supporters of Native Nations and communities with an informed understanding of how they and their organizations can:

  • establish and grow impactful philanthropic partnerships with Native Nation governments, Native nonprofits, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and other Native entities to expand and enhance the quality and accessibility of workforce development services designed by and for Native people; and
  • support policies designed to expand and strengthen the ability and capacity of – and resources available to – Native workforce development service providers to develop and implement self-determined, effective workforce development solutions.

The guide uplifts philanthropy’s unique role and ability in supporting the building of strong Native Nations and individuals through Native-led workforce development initiatives that advance the long-range priorities of the Native communities. 

Features include a comprehensive history of Native workforce development in the United States, 11 key strategies to maximize the positive impacts of giving to Native-led workforce development entities, 16 tools for philanthropic “self-reflection,” and 11 key messages from Indian Country about Native workforce development that philanthropy should recognize and embrace. Key messages include:

  • Native communities are incredibly diverse culturally, socially, and economically: Indian Country has never been a monolith. Philanthropy needs to explore, learn, embrace, and uplift Native diversity in its giving relationships with Native communities and Native-led workforce development entities so the initiatives and solutions it supports are tailored to the distinct challenges, needs, and long-range priorities of its grantees and the specific Native people they serve.
  • Investing in Native-led workforce development entities is low-risk: Tribal governments, urban Native nonprofit organizations, TCUs, and other Native-led workforce development entities are inextricably tied to the Native communities they serve, and thus are deeply invested in and committed to advancing the workforce development priorities of those communities. Simply put, these entities make good on philanthropic investments in them, for they can’t afford to waste a cent in improving the quality of life for Native people.
  • Commit to fueling Native-designed solutions: It is not philanthropy’s responsibility to fix the workforce development and related challenges confronting Native communities. Instead, philanthropy has an obligation to endow the solutions that those communities – and the Native-led workforce development entities serving them – develop with the resources they need to take root and grow over time. 
  • Now is an unprecedented opportunity to fuel Native workforce development: The last several decades have seen a growing movement across Indian Country to uproot failed workforce development approaches imposed on Native communities by outsiders and replace them with Native-designed approaches tailored to the distinct challenges and priorities of Native communities. Recently policy developments are accelerating the growth of this movement. It is incumbent on philanthropy to fuel that growth!