Native Youth Grantmakers

Native Americans in Philanthropy’s (NAP)  newest program, Native Youth Grantmakers is designed for Indigenous youth aged 18-24 who are connected to their community (urban, rural, or reservation) and want to grow their leadership skills, advocate for Native youth and youth programs, and learn more about the philanthropic sector. 

Applications for 2022 Native Youth Grantmakers are closed.

For more information or questions, please contact [email protected].

This year-long course is both in-person and virtual and embraces Indigenous values that can help create conditions for all communities to thrive. As Native people, we are the first philanthropists. Today, philanthropy is a critical tool because it supports endeavors from which we can all benefit; however, Native youth are largely left out of that process. 

NAP strongly believes that Native youth bring a critical perspective to the world of philanthropy and deserve decision-making power when it comes to the issues that impact us all. This leadership program is designed to directly support emerging Native leaders, to center their perspectives, and to build power in a community of practice of grantmakers. The NAP team will work closely with program participants to help cultivate and nurture their strengths and connect them to key Indigenous leaders in the philanthropy sector. 

Image courtesy of Indian Country Today

Program Objectives

The Native Youth Grantmakers program will focus on:

  • Increasing knowledge of philanthropy
  • Strengthening leadership and advocacy skills
  • Developing and coordinating effective grantmaking strategies
  • Encouraging dialogue between Native youth and Mentors to learn from one another
  • Creating a space to develop meaningful relationships in philanthropy and community

NAP strongly believes that Native youth bring a critical perspective to the world of philanthropy and deserve decision-making power when it comes to the issues that impact us all.


Meet the 2022 Native Youth Grantmakers

Alyson Brown (Seneca Nation)

Nya:wëh Sgëno’ swagwe:göh. Gaëdi:yoh ni’gya:soh. Dewashë:h sëh niwagoshiya’göh. Ohi:yo’ knöge’. Hello everyone, I’m thankful you are well. My name is Alyson Brown, I am 23 years old and a member of the Seneca (Allegany) Nation.   

As an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, I studied Community Health (B.S.) Through my studies, I created a working understanding on the various components of a healthy and sustainable community. In addition to the standard coursework, I was able to service Indigenous populations abroad with the Quechua of Peru and the Māori of New Zealand. I currently serve as a board member for my older brother’s non-profit and am employed as a crime victims advocate for my tribe.   

These collective experiences have shaped the vision I have for Native communities. I believe in a self-sustaining tribal nation through capacity building across all sectors, the philanthropic sector especially. It is my hope that by participating in the Native youth grantmakers program, I can gain the tools and knowledge necessary to see my vision come to fruition.  

Candice Joe (Navajo Nation)

Candice Joe is a 19 year old member of the Navajo Nation. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Candice’s pronouns are she/her/hers. She is a second year student at Estrella Mountain Community College majoring in Communications. She is currently employed as a Civic Engagement Intern at the Phoenix Indian Center located in Central Phoenix and serves as a 2021-22 UNITY Earth Ambassador. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, painting, and writing letters. She is passionate about creating resourceful, safe environments in her communities especially for Native youth. 

Sadie Kelley (Oneida, Kiowa, Comanche, Muskogee Creek, Shoshone, and Paiute Nations)

I am Sadie Kelley or  Yewelahawi, “she brings the wind” in Oneida is a sophomore at Colorado Mesa University.  I come from the people of the Oneida, Kiowa, Comanche, Muskogee Creek, Shoshone, and Paiute Nations. I am studying Political Science and Business and is the current president of the CMU Native American Student Association.  

I am a member of the CMU Women’s golf program, which ended in 3rd place in the RMAC  conference tournament in the spring of 2021. As a freshman I made the travel team  for two tournaments, placing 25th out of 65 players in my first tournament in Denver.  

This summer, I competed in six summer tournaments and won the WPGA College event at Blackwolf Run. My work experiences include working as a Pro Shop Assistant at Thornberry Creek at Oneida during the summers, when she did an internship with General Manager, Justin Fox, during the LPGA tournament. Also, a brief internship working at my tribe’s fitness center, where I got to interact with a lot of families and kids to make their lifestyle healthier.   

I also worked as a student volunteer for the Oneida Head Start Language Immersion program after completing five years of Oneida Language classes. I have always kept my language close to heart because it allows my community to grow and help each other learn. It is important to keep all languages alive because that is how we communicate, tell stories and keep our traditions alive.   

Gianni Lacey-Howard (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation)

Mecou! (Hello) I am Gianni Lacey-Howard. I was born in Chapel Hill, NC, but was raised in Durham all of my life. Although Durham is already quite small, I am a citizen of an even smaller Indigenous community in NC (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation). I attend Duke as a Questbridge Scholar, Benjamin N.Duke Scholar, and Cardea Fellow. On campus, I am involved with the Native American/Indigenous Student Alliance and currently serve as the Program Chair. I also serve as the president of the Nu Chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc. I am a part of the Duke LIFE (Low-Income, First-Generation Engagement) community. I am currently a third-year pre-med student majoring in sociology and minoring in chemistry. I am extremely passionate about pursuing a career that involves researching health disparities disproportionately affecting minority communities in North Carolina. I have had several clinical and research experiences in the past which have involved shadowing various health physicians, conducting independent research, and presenting at various research symposiums. I recently wrote and illustrated a children’s book featuring aspects of wellness and health in my Native language and currently in the process of publishing. In my free time, I love writing poetry, painting, beading jewelry, and learning my Native language (Tutelo-Saponi). 

Holly Masten (Yurok Tribe)

Holly Masten is a Yurok tribal member and is a descendant of the Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk Tribes. She grew up on reserve in Northern California and off reserve in later years. She is inspired by the commitment of her family to improve the community and they have shown her the significance of having courage and finding your voice. Holly’s experience on and off reserve motivates her to create space and authenticity for Indigenous youth. 

Holly is a university student in the Bachelor of Arts program and she hopes to study education or law that centers Indigenous perspectives. Creating voice in her studies and work is a priority. 

She has experience in youth leadership roles and advocacy while working with Matsqui-Abbotsford Impact Society and she helped found her high school Indigenous Leadership program. She organized and led Orange Shirt Day and MMIWG2S advocacy projects and has participated in several panels with education administration. 

“I am excited to be part of this program and know I am making important contributions. Learning is a process of reciprocity and this opportunity allows me to give back more. I look forward to giving my voice and working with my peers as we restore our communities.”  

Karen McGirt (Muscogee Nation)

Hesci, estonkon arvka? Karen McGirt cvhocefkvt os. Ecovlke vmvliketvt os, Okmulgee likiyet os. Hello, my name is Karen McGirt. I am of the Deer Clan and I live in Okmulgee Oklahoma. I am 20 years old and Citizen of the Muscogee Nation. While serving on the Mvskoke Nation Youth Council for 6 years, I was able to be immersed in the issues facing our Native youth today leading me to not only find my own voice but to be a voice for others. A few areas I am passionate about are Mental Health, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Sexual Abuse Awareness, and Pathfinding. I feel that all Native youth are able to reach their maximum potential with support and a community. I am grateful to have found my support within my community at such a young age and to have a platform to share that feeling with others. This opportunity will provide me with new ways of offering support to my community and knowledge of how to make changes. It is so exciting and I am honored to represent Mvskokvlke within the Native Youth Grantmakers Program. Mvto! 

Deanna Mousseau (Kul Wicasa Oyate and Oglala Sioux Tribe)

Deanna Mousseau is from the Kul Wicasa Oyate and Oglala Sioux Tribe. She is a senior at Black Hills State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management. Deanna works for Thunder Valley CDC on the Pine Ridge reservation as the Advancement Coordinator. She’s an alumna of the Encampment for Citizenship nonprofit organization that has shaped her social justice aspirations. 

Sophia Turning Robe (Spokane Tribe and Siksika First Nation)

Sophia Turning Robe is 19 years old and enrolled in the Spokane Tribe and Siksika First Nation. Sophia currently attends Whitworth University in Spokane, WA where she is double majoring in political science and theology with minors in law and justice and mid evil to early modern studies. Sophia was also selected as an ActSix Scholar at Whitworth University. Once she graduates, Sophia plans to attend law school and work within Federal Indian Policy. Along with her studies, Sophia is also on the women’s volleyball team at Whitworth University where she is a setter and right-side hitter. Sophia also holds the title for Miss Spokane Tribe 2021-2022. Sophia and her family often travel throughout Indian Country and Canada to attend powwows and practice their cultural traditions of war dancing and playing stick game. During her free time Sophia enjoys golfing, reading, playing board games, and fishing.