Within philanthropy there is a surge of interest in racial equity, accompanied by new support for Native-led organizing and social change organizations. This encouraging uptick runs counter to a long pattern of philanthropic neglect and under-investment in the infrastructure of Native American organizations and institutions. Nonetheless, questions abound. Is this new philanthropic interest in racial equity episodic? And will it translate into long-term and significant support for Native-led social change organizations to make Native American communities matter and thrive? Will race equity proponents look beyond race to understand and become allies for tribal sovereignty?
Emboldened by the youth of Standing Rock, in June 2017, the Schott Foundation for Public Education and Native Americans in Philanthropy hosted Native American leaders and funders to discuss how to support Native youth in bigger and bolder ways. If youth are the bedrock of movement and community change, there is an imperative to ensure that Native youth are educated, healthy and prepared as the next generation of leaders. As a group, these leaders grappled with such questions as: What is the responsibility of those working with Native youth during this critical time? What is the role of philanthropy in this work? What did we learn from Standing Rock as it relates to youth leadership, health and education?