In Minnesota, the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) brings together Native nonprofit and entrepreneurial leaders
to build capacity, alignment and leadership to advance opportunity and social and economic change that benefits Native communities. NACDI received support for their Organizing and Leadership Institute (OLI), which has now graduated two cohorts of young leaders. The Institute provides participants with skills training and mentorship designed to help them increase their efficacy as leaders and equip them with hands-on experience on how to build power in their communities. During the last grant period, participants in the Institute also helped to organize the successful campaign to officially change the name of “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous People’s Day” in the City of Minneapolis. NACDI’s effective organizing ultimately led to the unanimous approval of the change by the Minneapolis City Council in spring 2014. The organization reported that this was a very exciting victory for the Native American community in Minneapolis while also receiving national attention. The organization estimates that nearly 2,000 community members were engaged in the organization’s work. This campaign enabled the organization and its members to strengthen their voice and influence with local officials, which they hope will translate into even greater gains moving forward. The group’s young leaders have learned how civic processes work and have gained a taste of how civic engagement can result in positive change.
Culturally, it is the norm for Native groups to be composed of members across generations. Therefore, Native Voices Rising grantees are often multi-generational, and often incorporate youth programs. Note that in the pilot round 84% of grantees reported working with youth and 90% with elders. For instance, the Black Mesa Water Coalition has pioneered key public policy victories and involves young leaders in its work.