Application Form

Indigenous Food Systems Community of Practice

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Cohort Background & Registration Information

In response to growing interest in a substantive engagement at the intersection of Indigenous food systems and sustainable agriculture and food systems, we are excited to invite registration for the SAFSF Indigenous Food Systems Community of Practice, a cohort of funders who will gather to:

  • Interact, learn, and build relationships with Native American practitioners, organizations, and communities offering food systems solutions;

  • Share and sharpen their skills and strategies for investing in Indigenous partners who are leading sustainable agriculture and food systems work in Indian Country;

  • Build awareness of and respond to the historic, structural, current (e.g. impacts of COVID-19), and philanthropic barriers that Native communities and Tribal governments face in obtaining funding; and

  • Enjoy the fellowship and support of other funders committed to investing in Indigenous communities.

This community of practice is developed by Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), First Nations Development Institute (FNDI), and Melvin Consulting PLLC, a Hopi owned and led firm.

Who Should Apply 

This Community of Practice is open to grantmakers, lenders, and investors who bring a commitment to investing in Indigenous communities. Funders who have a range of experience with grantmaking or investing in sustainable agriculture and food systems work in Native communities are invited to apply. This includes both those funders who are preparing to invest in Indigenous food and agriculture systems for the first time, as well as those who have already made or are making investments in Indigenous-led projects. We hope those participants who have not yet funded in an Indigenous community will leave this experience having committed to do so. 

The group will be limited to no more than 14 participants. 

Applications will be accepted through the end of the day on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

Community of Practice Focus

Native communities receive only about one-quarter of one percent of all philanthropic giving, and only a small portion of those grant dollars go to Native-led organizations. Members of this community of practice will learn from and with Indigenous people leading projects in communities in order to build effective allyship skills. Participants will learn about the root causes that bar funding and resources from reaching Indigenous communities, and, we hope, apply these learnings to their own work.

Guided by our learning content and guest speakers, we will explore the historical and present-day complexities of Indigenous communities and food and agriculture systems. We will delve into the structural underpinnings that have institutionalized inequity and the barriers that Native communities and Tribal governments face in obtaining funding. We will simultaneously explore the beauty and richness of Indigenous agriculture and food projects, people, and institutions. As we learn from Indigenous topic experts and each other, we will co-design ways to change funding practices from within our funding organizations and networks.

Throughout the community of practice, participants will share their experiences making investments in Indigenous communities. Discussion of completed, in-progress, and/or anticipated real-time funding experiences will expose all members to a range of investments and funding dockets that include Indigenous projects and provide opportunities for participants to explore areas of collaboration with one another. At the same time, this community of practice will expand participants’ understanding of the strengths, abilities, and talents of Indigenous communities in our collective undertaking to create more just and sustainable food systems.


We will convene this Community of Practice for ten (10), three-hour virtual meetings held from July 2021 to May 2022. Meetings will incorporate 30-minute breaks. Group members will be encouraged to expand their learning and peer connections outside of formal meetings. 

First Nation Development Institute will lend more than 40 years of Native philanthropic experience and introduce you to exceptional people and projects across Indian Country. Michael Roberts (Tlingit), Raymond Foxworth (Navajo), A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa), Richard Elm-Hill (Oneida), and Eileen Egan (Hopi) have informed the program design and will assist the Community of Practice throughout each session. The cohort will be facilitated by Eileen Egan (Hopi), who specializes in leadership development, program design, strategic planning, and community development as a Partner at Melvin Consulting PLLC, a Hopi founded and led firm. 

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) staff are partnering with the First Nations team on the development and administration of this program, and will also support Community of Practice members throughout the program. 

All sessions will be held at 8am-11am HT / 11am-2pm PT / 12pm-3pm MT / 1pm-4pm CT / 2pm-5pm ET.

Majority of sessions will be held on the first Wednesday of the month, with a few exceptions. 

Semester 1:

Session 1: Our Community of Practice (Wednesday, July 7, 2021)

Session 2: Level-Setting: Indian Nations and the U.S. Government (Thursday, August 5, 2021)

Session 3: State of Philanthropic Funding in Native Communities (Wednesday, September 8, 2021)

Session 4: Reclaiming Native Truth (Thursday, October 7, 2021)

Session 5: Land Stewardship and Conservation Practices (Wednesday, November 3, 2021)

Semester 2:

Session 6: Effective Partnerships & Grantmaking Practices (Wednesday, January 12, 2022)

Session 7: The Impact of Climate Change in Native Communities (Wednesday, February 2, 2022)

Session 8: Being a Good Relative (Wednesday, March 2, 2022)

Session 9: Celebrating Native Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture (Wednesday, April 6, 2022)

Session 10: Our Continued Work as Changemakers (Wednesday, May 4, 2022)

Culminating Event: SAFSF Forum in Kansas City, MO (June 20-22, 2022); Community of Practice event on the morning of June 23, 2022*

*Participants in the Community of Practice are expected to attend the 2022 SAFSF Forum in Kansas City, Missouri. Registration, travel, and lodging for the Forum will be at participants’ own expense. All Community of Practice members will be eligible to register for the Forum at the discounted SAFSF member rate. Community of Practice members will have an exclusive opportunity to connect and learn together in person at the Forum. 

Cost of Participation

SAFSF members: $3,000 

Nonmembers: $3,350

A deposit of $500 is required at the time of registration. The deposit must be paid by credit card online.

You will be notified of registration status by June 2, 2021 and, if you are accepted into the cohort, the registration balance will be due by June 16, 2021. If you are accepted and cancel by June 11, we will refund your deposit minus a $50 administrative fee. In-person meeting expenses will be each participant’s own responsibility. 

If you are not accepted or if the cohort is cancelled by SAFSF, we will refund your full deposit. 

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Cohort Fee: $3,000 members/$3,350 non-members
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Cancellation Policy: If not enough people register for the cohort, your full deposit will be refunded. If participant cancels by June 11, 2021, full deposit will be refunded minus a $50 administrative fee. If accepted participant cancels after June 11, 2021, 50% of deposit will be refunded.
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