Wells Fargo Donates $13M to Native Groups in First Phase of $50M Commitment

One grant recipient is the GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund. The organization helps tribal communities achieve clean energy goals while providing financial savings and job training opportunities. (Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives)

To support greater economic empowerment in tribal communities, the Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded nearly $13 million to nonprofits supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities as part of its five-year, $50 million commitment to expand its focus on tribal philanthropy. The funding will help increase homeownership, energy sovereignty and workforce development on tribal lands, promote development of native owned small businesses, and help build capacity for nonprofits to better serve their clients in Indian Country.

The grants to 25 organizations range from $50,000 to $5 million and fall into four broad focus areas:

  • Helping tribal members succeed financially. Grants to organizations like Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition and Cook Inlet aim to help tribal members build financial assets that can be passed from one generation to another or leveraged for post-secondary education or starting a business. Grants to ONABEN and American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund will promote entrepreneurship and development of native owned businesses.
  • Advancing tribal homeownership. Grantees First Nations Oweesta, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Minnesota Housing Partnership and the National American Indian Housing Council are among several focused on tribal housing initiatives including down payment assistance, affordable housing solutions and expanding the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions.
  • Advancing energy sovereignty. A $5 million grant to GRID Alternatives provides seed funding for the organization’s Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund to catalyze the growth of solar energy and job training opportunities on tribal lands.
  • Capacity building for native nonprofits. Native nonprofits serving critical needs in Indian Country — including the National Indian Council on Aging, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society — received awards to build their organizational capacity and expand services.

“We believe it is important to support nonprofit and community organizations that empower tribal communities to determine their own way of life on their own lands — according to their time-honored cultures, traditions and beliefs — while also providing access to the tools and opportunities that can lead to financial success and well- being,” states Jon Campbell, President of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Spearheading the initiative is veteran banker Dawson Her Many Horses. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Her Many Horses brings 16 years of banking experience to the dedicated role. As senior vice president and senior relationship manager, he works closely with Cora Gaane, head of the bank’s National Tribal Philanthropy, as well as a cross-functional advisory council focused on identifying and addressing challenges within American Indian/Alaska Native communities through Wells Fargo’s business and operations, stakeholder and community engagement, policy and philanthropy. Based in Las Vegas, Her Many Horses serves customers throughout the United States.

Dawson Her Many Horses with Dr. Crazy Bull at the 25th Anniversary Gala for the American Indian College Fund. (Photo Credit: American Indian College Fund)

Wells Fargo has served tribal governments and communities for more than 50 years and currently provides capital and financial services to more than 200 tribal entities in 27 states. In 2016, the company developed and published an Indigenous Peoples Statement in consultation with tribal leaders, indigenous stakeholders and their representatives, to help guide Wells Fargo’s decision making for projects where proceeds of Wells Fargo financing may potentially impact American Indian, Alaska Native or other indigenous communities.

“We want to play a larger role in the development of tribal economies because we believe once tribes become financially successful, they also become more sovereign,” states Patty Juarez, National Diverse Segments Director. (Photo Credit: Wells Fargo)

The following organizations received funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation in 2018, the first year of Wells Fargo’s five-year commitment:

  •  Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corp.
  • Americans for Indian Opportunity
  • American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund
  • American Indian College Fund
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  • American Indian Graduate Center
  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium
  • Cook Inlet Lending Center
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • First Nations Oweesta
  • GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund
  • Housing Assistance Council
  • Indian Land Tenure Foundation
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Minnesota Housing Partnership
  • Native American Finance Officers Association
  • National American Indian Housing Council
  • National Congress of American Indians Fund
  • National Indian Council on Aging
  • Native Americans in Philanthropy
  • Neighborhood Reinvestment
  • Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition
  • ONABEN
  • Operation Tiny Home
  • Prosperity NOW

How to Apply:

National nonprofit organizations serving individuals, families and businesses in Indian Country who wish to be considered for a grant under the foundation’s commitment should contact AIANPhilanthropy@wellsfargo.com to determine eligibility. Community-based, local 501(c)(3) organizations serving the American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can continue to apply for grants through Wells Fargo’s online tool.