Tag Archives: First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute Releases Critical Report On A Model Tribal Consumer Protection Code

With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, First Nations Development Institute announces the release of a new research report that examines the passage of consumer protection and anti-predatory lending legislation by tribal governments. Previous research has demonstrated that predatory lending is stripping money from low-income tribal citizens, especially those who are unbanked or underbanked. Some tribes have passed legislation to provide consumer protection for their citizens.

“Tribes have the power to establish their own legislation that limits predatory lending on reservations and this sends a strong signal that such lenders are not welcome,” stated Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations Development Institute. “This report helps tribal leaders think through the options available to them as they work to avoid asset stripping in the form of high-cost loans.” The report also includes a model tribal code that can be adopted by tribal governments to limit the activities of predatory lenders.

The report, titled Building Trust: Consumer Protection in Native Communities, is the first attempt to explore the complex legal dynamics related to tribal consumer protection legislation and to discuss what tribal nations are already doing to combat predatory lending through the use of tribal legislation. Examining existing consumer protection and anti-predatory lending policies, this report also highlights issues that tribal leaders should consider in developing such legal and regulatory tools, including matters related to tribal legal jurisdiction and setting up regulatory systems.

Levon Henry, the executive director of DNA People’s Legal Services, will be presenting the paper at the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance conference on May 17, 2011 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Henry was a member of an advisory committee that directed the research for this project. DNA People’s Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal aid organization working to protect civil rights, promote tribal sovereignty and alleviate civil legal problems for people who live in poverty in the southwestern United States. “We have seen the negative impact of predatory lending on many tribal members,” stated Henry. “Tribes can take a pro-active step and adopt legislation that can limit the impact of such activities.”

For more information about the report Building Trust: Consumer Protection in Native Communities, visit First Nations Development Institute’s website at www.firstnations.org.

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First Nations Development Institute Releases Research Report On 7871 Organizations

First Nations Development Institute recently completed a research project on 7871 charitable organizations, their institutional structures, and best practices for their management. This research resulted in a report titled Charitable and Sovereign: Understanding Tribal 7871 Organizations.

In 1982, Congress passed the Indian Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act, codified as Section 7871 of the Internal Revenue Code, treating tribal governments as state governments for a variety of specified tax purposes. One of these purposes was to allow tribal governments and their programs to receive tax-deductible donations. Many tribes have used the 7871 tax code to develop tribal charitable and philanthropic organizations. These organizations include educational scholarship programs, economic development organizations, and grant making foundations.

First Nations’ research revealed that while there are a large number of these so called “7871 organizations” that provide social service, economic development, educational, and other charitable programming, only a small number of them are actively raising external funds. Most such programs are funded by tribal governments or federal funding streams. However, as tribes look to diversify both their programs and funding streams, an increasing number of tribal programs are using Section 7871 to facilitate fundraising as charitable organizations. Use of the Section 7871 designation to create philanthropic and charitable entities is increasingly popular as tribes seek ways to protect their sovereignty while still promoting philanthropic activities.

The report had the following additional key findings:

1. There is great programmatic and organizational diversity among 7871 organizations.
2. There are significant barriers to fundraising for 7871 organizations.
3. The myth of “rich gaming tribes” persists as a barrier to fundraising for 7871 organizations.
4. Federal legislation is inconsistent in its treatment of 7871 organizations and their eligibility for federal grant programs.
5. There are a large number of tribes that have spun off 501(c)(3) organizations to remove barriers to fundraising.
6. There is a need to establish best practices to reassure prospective donors to 7871 organizations.

“We hope this report will raise awareness about the important role that 7871 organizations play in providing services to tribal members,” stated Michael E. Roberts, President of First Nations Development Institute. “There is still a lot of confusion about what these organizations are and what they do. We hope this report will clarify many issues.” One goal of the report is to educate program officers at foundations so they are more comfortable working with 7871 organizations. “We hope to educate members of mainstream philanthropy on this topic,” stated Sarah Vermillion, Vice President for First Nations Development Institute.

First Nations’ research included a national survey and case studies and interviews with five active or former 7871 organizations. This research was funded by the Cultures of Giving Fund, established at the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors with major support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

To download a free copy of this report, visit our website at www.firstnations.org and follow the links from the home page.

For more than 28 years, using a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations Development Institute has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities. First Nations serves rural and reservation-based Native American communities throughout the United States.

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First Nations Receives $800,000 Grant

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) announced today that it has been awarded a two-year, $800,000 grant f r o m a new program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF), created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. First Nations will also provide an additional $200,000 in funding to the project bringing the total budget to $1 million (80% Federal funds and 20% nongovernmental sources) over two years.

The objective of the grant is to enable nonprofit organizations to contribute to the economic recovery and help Federal, State, local, and Indian/Native American Tribal governments ensure that the information and services described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) reach disadvantaged and hard-to-serve populations. The grant to First Nations is f r o m the Nonprofit Capacity Building program which made one-time awards up to $1 million to experienced lead organizations to provide nonprofit organizations — or project partners — with capacity building training, technical assistance, and competitive financial assistance. A minimum of 55% of the Federal funds awarded must be provided to project partners through a competitive (subgrant) process.

Specifically, through this grant project, First Nations will work to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations, whether secular or faith based, to address the broad economic recovery issues present in their (Native American) communities. With SCF funding, First Nations Development Institute will provide nonprofit capacity building services to targeted rural and reservation-based Native American communities in the United States. Project participants will be selected f r o m 22 targeted Native American communities located in Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah that have excessive poverty and low income statistics according to the U.S. Census.

Services will include providing comprehensive organizational effectiveness assessment for each of the organizations or groups selected; culturally appropriate training in organizational development; program development; collaboration/community engagement; leadership development; evaluation of effectiveness and development of individualized, tailored and culturally appropriate technical assistance plans. Recipients will be formally organized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, tribal§7871 organizations or community organizations which have not achieved this status. Recipients will be Native American-controlled and will serve the targeted rural or reservation-based Native American communities. Native American groups that are faith-based will be eligible to participate in this SCF-funded project, as long as the programs or services that will improve in capacity as a result of this project will not include inherently religious activities. Additionally, First Nations will provide $440,000 in grants to rural and reservation-based Native American nonprofit organizations and community groups for the purpose of capacity building in the areas listed above.

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First Nations Launches Native Asset Building Partnership Project

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) released the names of the advisory committee members for its new Native Asset-Building Partnership. Members include Anita Fineday, Chief Judge of the White Earth Tribal Nation; Tadd Johnson, Special Counsel for Government Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Susan White, Director of the Oneida Trust Department; former Senior Vice President and board member of First Nations, Sherry Salway Black; Elsie Meeks, Director of the USDA Rural Development Office; attorney Margaret Schaff, partner at Schaff & Clark-Deschene; Tracy Fischer, Interim President of the First Nations Oweesta Cooperation; and Michael E. Roberts, President of First Nations Development Institute.

The goal of the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project is to strengthen tribal and Native institutions in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota through tribal nation-to-nation peer learning and model development that will lead to improved control and management of assets for the benefit of Native communities and individuals. Advisory committee member Susan White said, “Peer mentoring will provide ideas and processes on how Indians as the true stakeholders can gain greater control over their own assets. Applying mentoring objectives will elevate a tribe’s ability to be more self-determined and therefore gain greater control over their own assets.”

First Nations’ goal is to partner tribes around specified assets and allow them to share best practices for asset stewardship and management. “Through this project we will be able to continue to ask questions from our brothers and sisters at other tribal nations and create long-term enduring benefit to Indian Country,” notes advisory committee member Anita Fineday who is Chief Judge of the White Earth Tribal Nation located in White Earth, Minnesota.

Sherry Salway Black said “assets are incredibly important for individuals, families, communities, and nations – including tribal nations. The ownership, control, management and development of current assets and creation and acquisition of new assets taken together are wealth and assure a better future.”

The Native Asset-Building Project advisory committee is composed of national and regional leaders familiar with asset-building in Native American communities. “First Nations is grateful to have the participation of such well respected national and regional leaders in Indian Country,” said Michael E. Roberts. The project advisory committee will assist in engaging tribes and Native organizations in the targeted states to determine asset-building needs and regionally-relevant models and assist in the planning and hosting of an asset-building conference that will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this fall.

The Native American Asset Building Project is a two-year project funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation, based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. For more information about First Nations’ Native Asset Building Project, contact Raymond Foxworth, Research Officer for First Nations at 303-774-7836 or rfoxworth@firstnations.org.

About First Nations Development Institute
Founded in 1980, First Nations Development Institute is a national Native American-led nonprofit organization. Through a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations Development Institute is working to restore Native control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities. To learn more about First Nations, visit: www.firstnations.org.

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The next generation of Native American nonprofit sector leaders will receive a significant boost from a leadership training program organized by First Nations Development Institute

The next generation of Native American nonprofit sector leaders will receive a significant boost from a leadership training program organized by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and funded by a consortium of private foundations as well as contributions from individual supporters.

Grants of $300,000 over three years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $400,000 over two years from the Ford Foundation and $25,000 from American Express will support the Leadership and Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship Development (LEAD) program for up-and-coming, nonprofit executives serving Native American communities in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. In all, 60 Native American nonprofit professionals will be trained during the three-year grant period.

LEAD will develop a new pool of nonprofit leaders to meet the needs of the growing Native American nonprofit sector. LEAD Fellows are employed by a nonprofit organization or planning a career in the nonprofit sector, are committed to a career working in Native communities, and are affiliated with a tribe. In fall 2008, LEAD graduated 12 Fellows. For information about the 2007 – 2008 LEAD graduates and the 2008 – 2009 class of LEAD Fellows, visit www.firstnations.org.

In Oregon, Washington and Colorado, respectively, partner organizations – the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the Potlatch Fund and NVision– will organize and host the training sessions for the Fellows with facilitation and support fromFirst Nations.

“We are so pleased to expand this program that builds the capacity of Native nonprofit organizations,” said First Nations’ President, Michael E. Roberts. “By concentrating resources on our communities’ most important asset – our people – we can build strong communities and tribal institutions.”

The one-year mentorship program will train participants in areas critical to successful nonprofit leaders, including financial management, factors affecting Native or reservation-based nonprofit organizations, fundraising, program evaluation and service leadership.

About First Nations Development Institute
Through a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations Development Institute is working to restore Native control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities. First Nations Development Institute is a national, nonprofit, Native American-led organization.

For more information about this program, contact Sarah Vermillion, Vice President of First Nations Development Institute, at 303-774-7836 / svermillion@firstnations.org.

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First Nations Is Encouraging §7871 Organizations To Apply To Be A Part Of A New Grant Program And Research Initiative

First Nations Development Institute Announces Grant Program for §7871 Organizations

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is encouraging §7871 organizations to apply to be a part of a new grant program and research initiative. Grants of $5,000 to $10,000 will be given to §7871 organizations selected to participate in the study.

Generally, private foundations and public charities fall under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For Tribal Governments, however, the Indian Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act of 1982 supported Indian nations in establishing, regulating and controlling philanthropic activities within their communities under the leadership of the Tribal Government. This act, codified as the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §7871, allows tribes to create programs (including community development programs and grant making foundations) that can be controlled and regulated by the tribe but also can receive donations that are tax deductible for the donor (and meet the qualifying distribution test for mainstream foundations).

Establishing tax-exempt Tribal Governmental organizations under IRC §7871 allows Tribes to maintain a greater degree of sovereignty than they would under the more ubiquitous 501(c)(3) designation. Even the United States Supreme Court has held that Indian nations possess a status higher than States. Thus, the more traditional 501(c)(3) designation unfairly subjects Indian nations (and their political subdivisions) to the oversight of States’ Attorney General Offices, where jurisdiction over “expressly public and charitable purposes” is generally housed. First Nations will work with the selected §7871 organizations to gather data for a report targeted at educating and informing foundations, corporations with charitable giving programs, and the philanthropic community about §7871 organizations. Additionally, the report will provide critical information for tribes and tribal communities to assist them with developing new or supporting existing §7871 organizations.

“§7871 organizations are largely misunderstood by mainstream funders and the general public,” stated Michael E. Roberts, President of First Nations Development Institute. “This lack of understanding and acceptance greatly reduces the ability of tribes to raise critically needed funding.” Roberts says the program was created to educate the philanthropic sector about §7871 organizations in an effort to ensure tribes creating 7871 organizations retain their rights and guard their sovereignty when trying to access funding and compete on the same level playing field as their mainstream nonprofit and philanthropic counterparts. “Additionally, this important study will also yield information to help support tribes that have existing §7871 organizations or those considering creating new §7871 organizations in an effort to expand philanthropy in tribal communities,” says Roberts.

“We hope to learn more about §7871 organizations and the different forms they take,” stated Sarah Echohawk Vermillion, Vice President of First Nations Development Institute. “The purpose of the research that comes out of this grant making program is to generate data about §7871 organizations, their institutional structures and programmatic areas, and to highlight benefits and methods of giving to §7871 organizations.”

Interested §7871 organizations should go to www.firstnations.org to download instructions and complete a short application. The deadline for applying is 5:00 p.m. (MST) November 21, 2008.

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