A Rapid City organization is raising money to support Indigenous efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. NDN Collective has raised more than three million dollars for organizations working with Indigenous communities around the country.
NDN Collective was started a few years ago to help support Indigenous leaders and efforts. Now, they’ve changed their focus to funding pandemic relief. Nick Tilsen is the President.
“Less than a half a percent of all philanthropy in America goes to Native communities and this is an issue that NDN Collective has been trying to adjust since our creation a couple of years ago.”
Tilsen says there is federal aid for tribes and Indigenous communities, but the money isn’t coming in quick enough which can be dangerous. He says since many Indigenous communities are already underinvested, this can put more stress on first responders, emergency management and individuals.
“And so this is designed to provide gap funding, immediate support to those organizations and tribes and communities out there that are providing direct and essential services to their community.”
That includes tribal healthcare systems, nonprofits, businesses and grassroots efforts. Tilsen says their priority is getting protective gear and essential material to communities on lockdown.
“Along with additional medical equipment, helping with additional food and supplies for young people that are in the Indian Welfare System. Supporting some of the elderly care facilities and veteran facilities that are out there.”
Nick Tilsen says the collective has built relationships with philanthropic institutions over the years. That helped them raise money for pandemic response quickly.
"When we made the decision to make our other work essential and to not organize existing dollars, we leaned on our philanthropic partners and said ‘hey we want to build a fund for Indian Country. Will you go in partnership with us. Can you help make this happen.’”
So far the NDN Collective has raised more than three million dollars. Their plan is to get 10 million.