Our collective knowledge about the Indigenous peoples of the U.S. often remains veiled in mystery—a result of deliberate efforts of the colonial project to erase Native voices and narratives. We must continue to educate ourselves as we work toward building a more equitable and just society.  In Indian Country, workforce development is about building the human capacities to rebuild Native Nations and communities. It is about preserving cultures, languages, and ways of life to ensure prosperity for future generations. 

In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, Workforce Matters would like to share several updates about the ways that we are leaning into supporting Native-led workforce efforts through our newest initiative – Workforce Grantmaking in Native Nations and Communities. 

Learning for Workforce Funders and Field Partners

Earlier this fall, Workforce Matters launched a virtual learning series for funders and field partners on Understanding Workforce Grantmaking in Native Nations and Communities. The recordings and slides from the first two webinars in the series are now available in our Video Library

All Workforce Members members and field partners are invited to join us for the third and final webinar in the series on December 7 at 3 pm ET: Native Workforce Development Policy and Data: The Current Landscape and Ways Philanthropy Can Strengthen Them. Register here.

To learn more, we encourage you to read the Reclaiming Native Truth (RNT) Project, an unprecedented two-year, $3.3 million public opinion research and strategy-setting initiative released in July 2018.  The findings showcase the invisibility and toxic misconceptions about Native people that create serious biases among diverse demographics and within institutions.  We are grateful to have featured Illuminative’s Michael Johnson in our September webinar.

Funding for Native-led Workforce Development Organizations and Initiatives 

Later this month, Workforce Matters will launch our inaugural pooled fund to support workforce development in Native Nations and communities. Part of our Workforce Grantmaking in Native Nations and Communities initiative, the fund is supported by the Ascendium, AllState Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, LANL Foundation, and Northwest Area Foundation.  

Workforce Matters anticipates making at least $500,000 available in grants through this fund to support workforce development initiatives led by and for Native people and aligned with their cultural values and priorities.  The initiative has engaged tribal leaders and community leaders from Indian Country to help design and lead a grantmaking process that serves and responds to Native people and organizations serving Native people. The fund’s advisors include: 

As with Workforce Matters’ Fund for Workforce Equity, the impetus to launch this fund comes from Workforce Matters’ Racial Equity Framework for Workforce Development Funders, and the promising emerging workforce initiatives happening in Indian Country despite unmatched philanthropic resources.

A request for proposals for Native-led organizations, Tribes, consortiums, and tribal programs for the Workforce Grantmaking in Native Nations Fund will be announced soon! Funders interested in contributing to the pooled fund can email info@workforce-matters.org for more information. Please sign up here to receive updates on the fund and to be notified when the RFP is released.

We look forward to sharing future updates from this initiative as we work on other resources for funders and workforce field partners. Thank you for your ongoing interest and support!