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Northwest Area Foundation establishes community organizations


The Northwest Area Foundation and Sitting Bull College wanted to create a sustainable network of community organizations in towns on Native American tribal lands in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Foundation partnered with Sitting Bull College to conduct needs assessments and planning sessions in 18 towns. They needed someone to help these towns develop a nonprofit organization that could operate and sustain the community’s planning and action efforts. These proposed nonprofits would seek to improve critical parts of community life such as housing, employment, health and cultural awareness.

As an added challenge, the Foundation needed to keep in mind the dynamics of multi-ethnic communities and small rural communities.


Access Philanthropy worked with leaders in the 18 communities during three-day weekend clinics. We guided community ideas from concept to fully developed nonprofit infrastructure. This structure included board elections, incorporation and application for 501(c)(3) recognition.

Access Philanthropy also helped to develop fundraising plans and grant proposals. These plans involved community events, individual solicitation, grantseeking and a full proposal template planned and written by community members.


Four years after Access Philanthropy completed its work, 12 of the 18 community nonprofits continued to coordinate, plan and fundraise for community needs. Nine were incorporated into tribal government operations.