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A message from Valériana Chikoti-Bandua & Cleora Hill-Scott:

As the Executive Directors of Potlatch Fund and Social Justice Fund NW (SJF) we are proud to announce a new initiative that began in 2022: the Native Led Organizing Grant, a grantmaking collaboration that will support Native-led community organizing throughout our overlapping five-state region.

SJF and Potlatch Fund have a long history as sister organizations in the Northwest dating back to the inception of Potlatch as an organization 2002. Fast forward 20 years later, and both organizations continue to work in similar circles and support each other in groups and collectives. Over the years we’ve had many overlapping donors and grantees, as well as personal relationships between our respective staff and boards. Since 2019 we’ve been part of the NW Justice Funders Collaborative, together with other partners like the Pride Foundation, Latino Community Fund, Seeding Justice, and Na’ah Illahee Fund.

Our relationship has grown, and now we’re taking this next step together to build collective power and resources, empower like-minded people to join hearts to invest their financial resources, and strengthen our communities and causes through innovative and audacious grantmaking. In 2022, we started brainstorming a way to create a granting cycle that wove together a social justice lens in Indian Country, grassroots efforts, initiatives and community organizing. Our goal is to continue to work together collaboratively for greater impact, supporting the social justice efforts with the MMIWP, LGBTQIA2S+, Environmental Justice, Indian Child Welfare, Boarding School Healing, and Voting Rights, thus starting the 2022-23 Native Led Organizing Grant.

tai simpson, Nimiipuu and Black, Potlatch Fund Board Secretary, SJF consultant, and community member who helped lead the project

“Potlatch Fund and Social Justice Fund are excited to bridge a much needed gap in Indian Country. We know that many community focused initiatives miss rural Native communities, especially reservations. We know that artists who hold the responsibility of uplifting and restoring language, dance, first foods, and culture are overlooked for funding. Projects that amplify the healing and wellness needs of our people, even those recorded and written at our kitchen tables, are overlooked for funding. And most importantly, interrupting violence in Native communities must be energized by the families of those most impacted by gender based violence – this is a cornerstone to addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP) epidemic.

The 2022 Native Led Community Organizing Grant cycle intentionally addresses this funding disparity in unique ways. Social Justice Fund knew that Potlatch Fund was already doing impactful work for Native communities and sought to build a collaborative effort. Many names of grassroots groups, and community organizers were put on the table for consideration, each of them uniquely suited to champion their art, their issues, their projects, and their culture as a backdrop for a vibrant, dynamic Native future.”

This current project of trust-based grantmaking came about in part due to funding received from larger funders – in particular the Satterberg Foundation and the Northwest Area Foundation – who recognize the direct relationship that Potlatch Fund and SJF have with our grantees, and thus the value in supporting our grantmaking.

These funds are unrestricted and completely trust based with a hope continuing to set a trend for philanthropy: that communities know best how to serve their own people. Funds were not applied for, but rather gifted to and entrusted with grassroots organizers who were brought forward by a panel of Native leaders and community members. The funding is meant to be a service and not a burden; applications and reporting are often extractive practices that place the burden on already taxed individuals and grassroots organizers. With this investment we aim to trust our grantees to best decide what they need, and to continue doing their vital work. Often this challenging grassroots work goes unseen so with these grants we say: we see you and support you.

Finally, the announcement of the 2022 Native Led Organizing Grantees is coming soon. We can’t wait to share more information about these groups, and future collaborations between SJF and Potlatch, with our communities.

With liberation,

Cleora Hill-Scott, Potlatch Fund Executive Director
Valériana Chikoti-Bandua, Social Justice Fund Executive Director