Applications Due March 31, 2020

IllumiNative, in partnership with Wend Collective, announces new grants that will equip Native-led organizations with the resources and tools needed to advance Native education policy in their state. Grants totaling up to $160,000 each will support coalition building, community organizing and planning efforts in up to three states in 2020.

Grant Portal Code: ILNA 002185

About the Initiative

Native Americans are a vibrant and growing population with rich, distinct cultures in the United States. Tribal governments and Native communities have made large strides in revitalizing and teaching traditional languages and cultural practices and remain at the forefront of innovative practices in a variety of areas. However, invisibility and erasure remain profound barriers facing Native individuals, families and communities. These barriers are perpetuated by K-12 public education systems and have created hostile learning environments for Native children and negatively impact both Native and non-Native students by continuing to further invisibility and false narratives about Native peoples’ past and present. The failure of K-12 education systems to teach accurate history about Native peoples or about our contributions and issues in today’s society, promotes an inaccurate history of this country and erases the continued importance of Tribal Nations and peoples to the fabric of American society. False narratives and invisibility have harmful, long-term impacts by shaping federal and state policies, determining court decisions that affect tribes and Native peoples, furthers inadequate funding of programs impacting Native communities, and normalizes bias, discrimination and racism towards Native peoples.

What We Fund

The NEFA grant program is designed to help groups build capacity power in the coming year to set them up for longer term success to pass statewide policies in 2021 and beyond. Applicants are not expected to achieve NEFA policy change within the 12-month project period but to instead build momentum, strongly position themselves and establish a broad-based coalition with resources, that sets a strong foundation to achieve policy change in the future.

We recognize that community and organizational capacity varies, and that building power to impact state policy takes resources, including time, money and support. Efforts that could be potentially supported in this grant require outreach, community organizing, coalition-building and planning with key partners including tribes, school districts, state education agencies, students, parents, etc.

Research Based Initiative

While illuminating the scope of the problem, both reports also provided a path forward. According to Reclaiming Native Truth, co-led by IllumiNative Founder Crystal Echo Hawk, 72% of Americans polled support significant changes to K-12 curricula, and 78% of Americans want to know more about Native peoples. It also found that the majority of K-12 teachers and parents are aware that curricula about Native peoples is lacking and inadequate and support changes to improve curricula and standards across schools in order to improve the quality of education for all students, both Native and non-Native.

Becoming Visible identified a growing movement and momentum of states moving towards change. It highlighted states that are taking steps to address the barriers that were identified. Oregon, for example, recently passed legislation – which includes funding – to develop statewide and tribally-specific curricula and training. In addition, both Washington (2015) and Montana (1999) have mandates that all students in the state learn accurate and authentic Native American content across grade levels.

Information & Process

A Letter of Interest is due by March 31, 2020. After a review process, IllumiNative will invite finalist applicants to submit a full proposal in Spring 2020. Grants will be awarded Summer 2020.

Join the informational webinar will be hosted on Tuesday, March 3rd at 12:00pm EST. To register for this webinar, please click below.


For more information, please contact Leah Salgado at