Capacity Building in Native Communities – The National Philanthropy Institute

Santa Ana Pueblo, NM – The National Philanthropy Institute, an annual conference hosted by Native Americans in Philanthropy, brought together constituents in philanthropy this month to address the theme, The Movement of Movements: The Healing Worldview of Indigenous Peoples.

Francene Blythe, Director of Programs for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), presented at the conference as part of the panel Grant Funds to Capacity Building. Ms. Blythe co-presented the panel topic alongside the Pacific Northwest’s Potlatch Fund. Her presentation focused on evaluation processes that NACF engages in to measure the impact of its grantmaking in Native communities through grants to individual artists, mentor artists, and projects that foster community collaborations and social engagement.

Last year, NACF released an evaluation of its four Community Inspiration Program (CIP) projects and published the outcomes report titled Progressing Issues of Social Importance Through the Work of Indigenous Artists: A Social Impact Evaluation of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s Pilot Community Inspiration Program. The report used new evaluation approaches predicated on the Aesthetic Perspectivesdeveloped by American for the Arts (AFTA) and utilized a methodology that took into account indigenous knowledge and truths based on Native beliefs, actions and experiences.

Ms. Blythe also discussed the capacity building aspect that NACF is currently invested in with the Mentor Artist Fellowship and the 2018 launch of the Native Nations Partnership program — a subset of projects under the Community Inspiration Program. The NACF grant funding helps build capacity for individual artists with a trajectory of recognition in the arts field through four levels; time to work; exhibitions and performances, leadership roles in arts organizations through publication and/or speaking engagements, and education through mentorship. Grant funding for both the Mentor Artist Fellows and the Native Nations Program addresses a lack of economic resources while creating social impact that iscritical to perpetuating Native cultures through art.