First Nations Development Institute
For the second year in a row, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has successfully met the matching-funds requirement for its Native Language Immersion Initiative (NLII) with the generous support of Kalliopeia Foundation, Lannan Foundation and NoVo Foundation, plus individual contributions from a multitude of supporters nationwide.
First Nations launched the initiative in late 2017 as a three-year project to help stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures through community-based programs that support new generations of Native American language speakers. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provided a $2.1 million challenge grant, which First Nations was required to match with $700,000 of additional funding each year over the three-year period.
In the first year (2018), the match was met through the support of Kalliopeia Foundation, Lannan Foundation and NoVo Foundation. In the second year (2019), these three foundations returned to generously underwrite the match again, plus First Nations raised the final $100,000 for the second year from individual donors across the U.S. The campaign for individual donors was conducted during Native American Heritage Month in November 2018.
In the first year of the effort, First Nations awarded 12 grants of $90,000 each to Native organizations to support a wide range of activities, including curriculum development, textbook design, technology access, and teacher training and recruitment. The announcement of the second-year grantees will be made soon. The application period for the second-year grants closed on December 18, 2018.
There are currently about 150 Native languages spoken in the U.S., many of them spoken only by a small number of elders. Without intervention, many of these languages are expected to become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years, which means a significant loss of cultural heritage. Language retention and revitalization programs have been recognized as providing key benefits to Native American communities by boosting educational achievement and student retention rates. They also support community identity, Native systems of kinship, and management of community, cultural, and natural resources.
Further, 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, a United Nations observance that aims to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, with an aim to establish a link between language, development, peace and reconciliation.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States.
For more information about First Nations, visit www.firstnations.org.