Democracy Collaborative Foundation (DCF) of Cleveland is a workhorse when it comes to Enterprise Development. Northwest Area Foundation awarded it a $500,000 grant to put its skills to work within Native American communities. DCF is recognized nationally as the architect of the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative, which is helping transform Cleveland’s Greater University Circle by building bridges between large anchor institutions and surrounding low-income communities, catalyzing new employee-owned businesses that recruit and hire local residents for living-wage jobs. Within the Northwest Area Foundation’s region, DCF will do much of the same work, offering Native-owned social enterprises training and technical assistance so they can increase local ownership and build a strong sense of community in areas that have long been economically marginalized. They will work with social enterprises that build, house and feed local residents, with organizations ranging from a worker-owned construction company on Pine Ridge Reservation to a property management company for native-preference housing to a tribally owned grocery store to a Native food truck.
“DCF will work closely with each of the Native-led organizations to provide tailored coaching, connections to capital resources, and access to a pool of experts who can offer sector-specific assistance,” explained Karla Miller, program director for Northwest Area Foundation. “They will also pull from past successes to create a curriculum on strategies for developing and flourishing a social enterprise.”
Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) provides culturally specific programs and services to Native Americans in Portland, Oregon, the ninth largest urban Indian community in the United States. NAYA will use a $450,000 three-year grant from Northwest Area Foundation to centralize ownership, streamline support, and provide a greater chance for success for several nonprofit subsidiaries by establishing a new, for-profit organization. Plans are underway to launch NAYA Business Services (NBS) to provide business and operational support for a network of for-profit, majority employee-owned Native social enterprises in Portland. NAYA will transition ownership of its existing nonprofit subsidiaries and a handful of new social enterprises to NBS, combining their strengths and giving them an opportunity to garner more competitive pricing and additional funding from sources such as tax credit programs. NBS will be majority employee-owned; money earned will stay in the community to provide economic stability and a brighter future for the worker owners.
“When we can fund reputable organizations that advance genuine opportunities for communities to thrive on their own terms, we know we’re on the right track to stay true to our mission,” says Kevin Walker, Foundation president and CEO. “Our Q2 grants promote programs that support stable, culturally anchored economic systems with locally controlled wealth, which culminate in vibrant communities.”
The Northwest Area Foundation supports organizations that champion change by advancing good jobs and financial capability in their communities. Its four interlocking portfolios of work – Access to Capital, Enterprise Development, Work Opportunity, and Financial Inclusion – together lay the foundation for economic, social and cultural prosperity in its region. Headquartered in St. Paul, the Foundation’s region includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, and more than 75 Native nations that share the same geography. The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, operated in this area. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. For more information, please visit www.nwaf.org.