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Keepers of Earth Fund grants for Indigineous People
Funds for NGOs
Last date - Oct 2016

Activities: Tribal & Indegeneous,Others

Indigenous Peoples’ lives and livelihoods are comprised of their spirituality, however formed or manifested. It is important to recognize that all of Indigenous life is based in spirituality, and that spirituality is demonstrated through the value system of each unique community. That value system is inextricably connected to all that we think about and do – from traditions and ceremonies, to hunting or fishing practices, to strategic planning activities and entrepreneurship, and for First Peoples Worldwide: grant making.
In December 2014, our Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) completed its 8th year of grant making to Indigenous communities around the globe. Distributed grants total nearly $2 million USD, supporting Indigenous communities in over 60 countries. The KOEF has supported cultural youth camps, legal registration, mapping of ancestral lands, community celebrations, farming and agricultural projects, and even more projects in other areas. How does our value system align with the projects we support?
One of the most integral pieces of our work at First Peoples Worldwide centers on the Spirit Wheel, a conceptual tool that guides us in evaluating grant applications from Indigenous communities based on an Indigenous values system and spirituality.
Less than .01% of the world’s development funding goes directly to Indigenous communities, including the funding specifically intended for their direct benefit. One of the goals of First Peoples is to increase that percentage. While, through our work, donors are starting to recognize the capacity of Indigenous communities to assess and meet the challenges they face, we still have a long way to go.. We believe that donors are failing to recognize the capacity of Indigenous communities to assess and meet the challenges they face. Putting resources in the hands of communities on the local level allows them to address their specific challenges in ways that best suit their people, their culture, and their unique set of assets. Our goal is to ensure that Indigenous communities have access to funds through a channel that values and respects their expertise, their ideas, and their voices.
At the center of First Peoples Worldwide’s Indigenous development work is our Keepers of the Earth Fund, which is designed to provide funding to locally-initiated development projects in Indigenous communities around the world. Our grants range from US$500 to US$10,000. All projects must be conceived and implemented by Indigenous community residents and not by people outside the community.
PRESERVING INDIGENOUS ASSETS

We award grants to projects that seek to control, utilize, leverage, retain, create, and increase the assets of Indigenous communities. Among these assets are land, culture, language, kinship networks, subsistence activities and personal efficacy. Projects may be geared toward the development of a sustaining and long-lasting process to address issues such as securing rights to ancestral lands, mitigating the effects of climate change, food security, or preserving and renewing cultural values and traditional knowledge.. We follow an Indigenous development model that values wholeness and balance, in which the diverse assets of the community must be developed in synchrony.
Grant Criteria and Process
MAKING GRANT APPLICATION ACCESSIBLE:Our grant applications are open-format and are intended to allow prospective grantees to propose projects in whatever manner suits them. We also accept video applications in order to provide an alternative to inherently confining written proposals, and to reduce our reliance on the English language and linear proposal structures. This helps ensure that the grant proposal, and the project itself, truly originate with and represent the worldview of the community.
WORKING WITH OUR COMMUNITIES:For First Peoples Worldwide, grantmaking is more than a financial transaction. “Through these partnerships with communities across the globe, we focus on culturally appropriate development, which means facilitating changes within our community; changes that are consistent with community values and not just change that is better for the community economy”. We focus on culturally appropriate development, which means facilitating changes within our communities that are consistent with their values, not just better for their economies. We also connect grantees with each other, and provide new ways to share what they are learning with a broader community. We use the grant making process to build a collaborative network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities around the world.
Application Guidelines
The First Peoples Worldwide Keepers of the Earth Fund provides grants that empower Indigenous communities to address local issues by taking control of their assets. The issues as well as the list of local assets compel and encourage a wide range of projects. See our grants page to get a better idea on what type of project we will fund.
Grant amounts for first-time applicants range from $500 to $5,000. If you have been awarded a Keepers of the Earth grant before and your project was successful, your next project is more likely to be approved for a larger grant. The largest possible grant award is US$10,000. All applicants must:
● Be Indigenous-led or represent an Indigenous-led project
● Be a grassroots/local organization or group
● Have an organizational bank account or access to a fiscal sponsor
Each grantee is considered a “partner” with First Peoples Worldwide. Each project is considered a process of development that benefits the community: leadership development, community development, etc. Community changes over time is measured based on the values and vision of the community. The vision and goals of our partner communities along with the mission of First Peoples Worldwide, guide the project development process from inception to evaluation. Our grantmaking process includes regular and ongoing dialogue with our grantees.
The criteria for making grants and evaluating projects is supported by the values, beliefs, and philosophies that have been handed down through the centuries by Indigenous ancestors: strong cultural ties, community based, reciprocity & sharing, spiritual connection of all life, strong kinship ties, balance, and stewardship of the earth’s resources.
Due to limited grant money and the focus of our grantmaking mission,
WE DO NOT FUND:
● Projects that do not originate from or are not led by an Indigenous community
● Travel to the United States
● Disaster relief
● Missionary Projects
● Fees associated with lawsuit proceedings or representation
● Electoral campaign activities
● Conference registration fees
● Work being done by an individual
● Scholarships or school application fees
● Event fundraising, fundraising campaigns, costs associated with the soliciting of endowment funds, or deficit funding

At First Peoples Worldwide, we don’t see ourselves as gatekeepers of funding, but as partners with our communities. We have crafted our grant-making process to be an equal and reciprocal dialogue with our grantees. Our grant criteria are based on whether proposed projects share our values, goals, and philosophy in supporting Indigenous Peoples.
PROJECT CRITERIA
Here are the basic questions we ask ourselves when considering a grant proposal:
IS THE PROJECT COMMUNITY INITIATED?
It is important for Indigenous communities to be in control of their own development—and therefore their own destinies. First Peoples Worldwide strongly prefers to fund development projects that are imagined and implemented by communities without intermediaries. Where communities apply for grants through outside organizations, we expect to see that the community itself has initiated the project and intends to take responsibility for implementing the project over the long term.
IS THE PROJECT HOLISTIC IN ITS APPROACH?
In evaluating a grant application, we look for projects that incorporate social, environmental, economic, and cultural concerns equally while addressing the immediate needs of the community. It is essential that proposals demonstrate an approach based on the interconnectedness of people, assets and environment. For example, we would likely fund a project that brings community members together to build clean-water wells that are designed to help preserve watershed ecosystems while providing a source of income for the builders. We fund projects that nourish all of the community’s assets, including traditional knowledge, community solidarity, and cultural identity.
IS THE PROJECT VALUES BASED?
In essence, our grant-making strategy focuses on values. It is from a community’s cultural values that it gains its sense of vision and weighs its choices within the context of the larger world. we believe positive and lasting changes are always made with these values in mind.
The common values that Indigenous communities share include the concepts of reciprocity and sharing, respect, responsibility, caring for and honoring one another, and the interdependence of all life. We look at grant proposals on a case-by-case basis to assess whether these concepts are present in the project design, and favor those that clearly express their intentions to incorporate these values into their work. A community without a sense of purpose, belonging, and meaningful life will not benefit from economic development.
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For more details visit: http://www.firstpeoples.org/grants
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