Applications Open for Native American Language Grants

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has opened a request for proposals (RFP) process for its newest effort, the Native Language Immersion Initiative (NLII). First Nations will award about 12 grants of up to $90,000 each to build the capacity of and directly support Native language-immersion and culture-retention programs.

This RFP is for the first year of this three-year initiative. Similar RFPs will be conducted in each of the next two years. Under NLII, First Nations is seeking to build a dialogue and a community of practice around Native language-immersion programs and consensus on and momentum for Native language programs. The effort is made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lannan Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation and the NoVo Foundation (see earlier funding announcement here). The initiative includes American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian language programs.

The full RFP can be found here. It contains information on eligibility, the application process, grant requirements, selection criteria, allowable activities and more. The application deadline is March 23, 2018. Eligibility is limited to U.S.-based tribal government programs, tribal 7871 entities, Native-controlled nonprofit organizations, and Native-controlled community organizations with a fiscal sponsor.

There are currently about 150 Native languages spoken in the U.S., many of them spoken only by a small number of elders. Without intervention, many of these languages are expected to become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years, which means a significant loss of cultural heritage. These grants can support curriculum development, technology access, and recruitment and training of teachers. Language retention and revitalization programs have been recognized as providing key benefits to Native American communities by boosting educational achievement and student retention rates. They also support community identity, Native systems of kinship, and management of community, cultural and natural resources.

Through this new initiative, First Nations seeks to stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures by supporting new generations of Native American language speakers, and establishing infrastructure and models for Native language-immersion programs that may be replicated in other communities.

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