Thought Leadership

Equity for Native American Communities: Using Mission Investments Alongside Grants

This article is part of a 10-week series on racial equity and impact investing co-presented by Mission Investors Exchange and Stanford Social Innovation Review. The series titled, 'How Foundations Are Using Impact Investing to Advance Racial Equity,' features 10 foundations who have made committments and deployed strategies to address issues of racial equity through their impact investing practices.
Click here for the more information on the series, including a list of contributors. 

The Northwest Area Foundation counts 75 Native nations in the region it covers, from Minnesota to Washington and Oregon. Its President Kevin Walker writes about how railroad expansion in the United States (which seeded the foundation’s assets) disadvantaged Native communities and that these setbacks had lasting effects that continue to be felt today. He discusses how the oppression of Native people was baked into the the establishment and growth of the United States. And he makes an elegant argument for making grants and mission investments to Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), i.e., CDFIs that are founded and led by Native people and located in Native communities. Their combination of cultural competence and financial knowledge make them essential investment partners, which he demonstrates in sharing details of their partnership experiences. Walker invites funders looking for investment opportunities to learn more about Native CDFIs.

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