At the local level, elections are often won by a few thousand or even a few hundred votes, in cities with Native populations, each vote is critical and Native people can absolutely make a difference in those elections. This year’s election is the most important of our lifetime and our Urban Indian communities must play an active and engaged role in the electoral process.
— Janeen Comenote, Executive Director, NUIFC

In September 2018, the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) is launching a national voter and civic engagement initiative that will target 16 urban American Indian communities across the country. This ambitious endeavor is critical for Urban American Indians, which make up over 65% of the total American Indian and Alaska Native population in the U.S., but who are often not included or engaged in “get out of vote” and traditional civic engagement programs. With seed funding from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, NUIFC is set to invest the funding directly into 17 Urban Indian organizations in 16 states across the country. The organizations identified for this initiative have a history of effectively serving their respective Native communities with a range of culturally-responsive services and resources.

The investment from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation comes at an incredibly important time, with Urban American Indian organizations and communities seeing growing challenges and cuts to funding and programs they rely upon for education, workforce development, and healthcare. Coincidently, this year there are more Native Americans than ever before running for elected office at all levels of the government across the country. The “Native Wave” sees over 158 Native candidates running for local, state, and national office with 55 of those candidates being Native women. Idaho has the opportunity to elect the first ever Native American, woman governor; Minnesota will elect its first Native American Lieutenant Governor, regardless of which party wins – Peggy Flanagan, Democrat, and Donna Bergstorm (Republican); and both Albuquerque and Kansas City could elect the first ever Native women to Congress in Deb Halaand and Sharice Davids respectively.

NAYA Family Center - Portland, Oregon

We believe that Native people can be a strong voice in civic life. Watch this video to see why members of our community vote, and why you should get engaged, too.

With a relatively short-timeline, each grantee organization has designed and developed their own unique civic and voter engagement strategies that reflect the capacity and sophistication of their programs and resonate with their respective Urban American Indian community and with other vulnerable communities of color.

Here are the organizations and the locations that will be participating in this inaugural initiative:

 Each of the organizations will receive a range of funding, depending upon their size and capacity, and work toward shared metrics aimed at increasing voter registration, engagement, and turnout. NUIFC is cultivating support for this initiative with hopes of expanding funding sources and increase investments to the participating organizations.