Our Story

The Native Cultures Fund Story

Supporting California Indian culture bearers, artists, lifeways, and knowledge transmission.

Man throwing line for sardine fishing, the word Wiyot on back of jacket. Founded by California Indian leaders and Native led, the Native Cultures Fund has practiced community grantmaking and program development at Humboldt Area Foundation since 2002.

NCF grantmaking committees continue to be made up of Native California culture bearers, language revivalists, artists, and educators — former grantees make the grants. The Native Cultures Fund has made over $2.3 million in grants to 315 community-based project in more than 100 California Native communities.

Beginning in 2016, the Native Cultures Fund oversees the Jack Montoya Memorial Scholarship to support Native students in California, who are actively strengthening their cultures, to attend a four year university or graduate studies program.

In addition to grantmaking, the Native Cultures Fund supports programs like the the Live Your Language Alliance conference for knowledge sharing among Indigenous language teachers and learners. NCF curated the River As Home exhibition, helped to advocate for Yurok language to be adopted for language credits into the Eureka public schools, and co-founded the Humboldt State University Big Time with Native students at HSU. We continue to advocate, connect, and support Native peoples in the movements that arise from within California Indigenous communities.

Program Evaluation

In 2018, we completed a program evaluation in partnership with Live Oak Consulting and supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Humboldt Area Foundation and the California Endowment. This evaluation process provided time to speak with past and present grantees, staff, and members of the communities we serve so that we can  determine the effectiveness of grants over the organization’s life and equip NCF with knowledge and direction for a strategic plan and a clear path forward.

NCF 2018 Evaluation

To apply for an NCF grant, see our grants page


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