Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Mariana Harvey) Movement Building Across Cultures & Communities

(SFJ program director, Mijo Lee with Mariana Harvey & Johnny Buck)

NYLA is blessed to build many partnerships with visionary funders.  These partners take bold steps to support us in our innovative work and we are deeply grateful for these lasting investments.  In this e-newsletter, we are celebrating the unique contributions of the Social Justice Fund Northwest!

The Social Justice Fund Northwest is a very unique funding partner.  NYLA learned at the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training’s conference ‘Money for Our Movements’ in 2012 that a majority of resources for community organizations come from individuals!  SJF harnesses the giving power of individuals, and is a member-funded and driven foundation that supports grassroots organizations in the Northwest.

The grant making process is done through ‘Giving Circles’ which consists of a diverse group of people from all income levels who personally invest and also build their skills to fundraise from their communities to support social justice grassroots movements!

We would like to celebrate three elements in particular in SJF’s approach:

  1. Courageous conversations of power and privilege among donors
  2. Priority to support rural communities and to connect donors directly to communities through site visits as a part of the grantmaking process
  3. Honoring the community’s leadership to steward resources based on self-defined needs through general operating support (funding that can be invested based on needs of the organization without conditions set by the funder) 

SJF empowers the individual to be a donor, a fundraiser.  They help individuals build community around common causes and dissolve the myths that only very wealthy people make waves as philanthropists.

NYLA was enriched by the three site visits we had with giving project members in 2013.  NYLA hosted the Environmental Justice Giving Project and the Next Generation Giving Project members in NYLA Co-Founder Johnny Buck’s Wanapum community in central Washington, and the Montana Giving Project members with  NYLA Fellow Amy Stiffarm at Salish Kootenai College.  These were key opportunities to connect beyond the written grant application, to get outside of the city, to share a meal, hear our stories first hand, learn about our cultures and begin understanding how we’re making change in our communities on our terms as young Native leaders. 

The power of these cross cultural partnerships is so vital to our movements.  These partnerships begin when we step outside of our comfort zones, be vulnerable in the learning process and open ourselves to diverse ways of understanding and creating change.  SJF made the effort to honor and understand how generational community organizing takes shape in rural, Native communities and in many diverse communities throughout the Northwest.

Last month, Johnny Buck, 2011 Fellow Burdette Birdinground and I had the opportunity to celebrate this partnership and all the incredible work SJF does at their annual dinner; Celebrating 35 years of making change! Johnny and I were able to meet many of our donor partners face to face and THANK the amazing people that advocated and raised funds for us.  They got to hear our stories of success in our communities; a powerful and meaningful exchange. We at NYLA want to extend a warm, heartfelt thank-you to all leaders @ SJF, we appreciate your support and leadership for our communities!


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NYLA members Johnny Buck, Mariana Harvey and Burdette Burdinground

with SJF Program Manager Kylie Gursky and Environmental Justice Giving Project members Kim and Avery.