How can funders respond?
How do we, as funders, continue meeting the ongoing immediate needs of those we serve while supporting community recovery? It is challenging to be flexible as some needs continue and others develop during this pandemic, and as we plan for recovery.

Many organizations that mobilized in the early months of the pandemic have moved on from response to recovery or reverted to pre-pandemic programming. For example, NDN Collective created a COVID-19 rapid response fund that ended in June. Now, it is focusing on transition and resilience toward a new and better normal through recently made grants in five priority areas: food security and clean water; education, technology and broadband; shelter and basic needs; Indigenous health and safety and sustainable, regenerative community resilience planning.

I urge funders to continue meeting immediate needs in Native communities such as food, housing, medical care and education while learning about the systemic issues exacerbated by COVID-19 and investing in longer-term solutions. Focusing exclusively on response or recovery is ineffective for making long-lasting change.

Tips for Supporting Relief and Recovery in Tribal Communities
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy supports immediate relief and recovery from COVID-19 in the U.S. and worldwide through its CDP COVID-19 Response Fund and a Native American and Tribal Communities Recovery Program program in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. To date, the CDP COVID-19 Response Fund has awarded a total of $19.4 million to 133 grantees. The Tribal Disaster Recovery program is weaving COVID-19 response needs into disaster recovery grants such as helping communities address food shortages while helping repair homes damaged by flooding.

If you would like to help tribal communities with response and recovery:

  • Listen to residents and leaders in the area. Build a relationship and work toward a partnership, not a transaction. What are their priorities? Who else should be involved? What would success look like for them?
  • Partner with Indigenous-led organizations. Local people and organizations should be leading relief and recovery efforts. Provide technical assistance as needed, and be patient while local capacity grows and expands.
  • Understand the pre-existing conditions and the systemic challenges of tribal communities. How will your grant-funded project work with or supplement other tribal and non-tribal programs? How will your assistance lead toward systemic change?

Read the full article about helping Native communities by Heidi Schultz at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.