$100,000 Grant Will Expose Tribal Youth to Entrepreneurship

October 2012, CUJ

Kathleen Flanagan

Kathleen Flanagan

Business Service Center receives funds from Northwest Area Foundation.

PENDLETON – The Business Service Center on the Umatilla Indian Reservation is one of six recipients of a $100,000 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation.

The two-year grant from the Foundation’s new Native American Social Entrepreneurship Initiative will be used to expose more Tribal youth, from first grade through high school, to entrepreneurship and financial education.

“Most kids are naturally entrepreneurial – curious, ready to take risks, and ready to learn,” said Kathleen Flanagan, Business Service Center manager. “We believe that the biggest impact in growing the private sector, long term, will come from exposing more tribal youth to entrepreneurship. The grant will enable us to work with grade school students in the classroom and provide a hands-on opportunity in the summer for older students to practice entrepreneurship,” stated Flanagan.

A portion of the grant will also be used for participation in a two-year peer learning cohort of eight organizations. Guided by ONABEN, an experienced Native American intermediary organization, participants will meet quarterly to explore new visions and strategies for advancing Native American social entrepreneurship in their communities.

The Initiative seeks to improve social entrepreneurship in Native communities and organizations in four major ways:

Increase knowledge, capacity, and leadership development

Provide Native organizations that operate entrepreneurship development programs with opportunities to enhance their learning, capacity and scale. By sharing “what works” such as curriculum, tools, and methods, cohort members will identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services;

Strengthen existing and new relationships

Cohort participants will create new, useful relationships with each other as well as establish stronger connections with economic development and social entrepreneurship organizations and programs within the public, private, and nonprofit sectors;

Increase knowledge of social entrepreneurship programs

Cohort organizations will share best practices and knowledge about how different programs help strengthen a community pipeline for entrepreneurship by reaching out to low-income members of all ages, and;

Increase progress towards broad, enduring change

In order to address the underlying issues of poverty and economic development in Native Communities, cohort organizations will need to develop a long-term strategy about how to identify, address and move forward issues by increasing their capacity and understanding of social entrepreneur programs. Native organizations will be better able to advocate with and on behalf of their own communities.

Cohort participants include Business Service Center - Confederated Tribes of Umatilla; Northwest Native Development Fund; TAALA Fund; Hunkpati Investments; Lakota Fund; and Four Bands Fund as Cheyenne River Tribal Ventures partner. The Native CDFI funds at Lummi Nation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa will be participating as current grantees for a total cohort of eight tribal organizations.

This story and photos originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.