Tiwahe Foundation

Renewing Community Through the Circle of Giving.

The Tiwahe Foundation is a resource for giving and strengthens American Indian communities by building capacity through leadership, culture, values and vision.


American Indian Empowerment Program

This study, conducted by a collaborative evaluation team from Rainbow Research and Wilder Research, was commissioned by Tiwahe Foundation to learn about the experiences of grantees and the impact of the micro-grants over the past 20 years. The knowledge gained through this study not only informs the continued progress of the AIFEP program and the field of grant-making and philanthropy through a deeper understanding of this unique program. The study team was guided by an advisory committee comprised of people familiar with the program and with the American Indian community of the Twin Cities.

The over-arching goals of the study were to:

1. Gain a deeper understanding of AIFEP’s unique micro-granting program model and document it visually so that it can be shared with others.

2. Identify program impacts on three interconnected levels: individual, family, and community.

3. Capture the depth and breadth of grantee experiences.

4. Explore the potential economic impact of the micro-granting AIFEP program.

Uniquely Rainbow Research

During this evaluation we used a variety of methods: reviewing the existing database and paper records that Tiwahe Foundation has held for 20 years, conducting an comprehensive, online survey that was sent to as many former grantees as possible, and in-depth interviews conducted with a  grantees that represented a variety of perspectives.

Minnesota Native American Leadership Alumni Network Project

Native American Leadership Network

In 2011, representatives from Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) and the Tiwahe, Blandin, Bush, Northwest Area and Headwaters Foundations formed the Native American Leadership Collaboration to learn together about the work each was doing to support American Indian leadership development.

Over the past few decades, more than 2,000 Native Americans in Minnesota have participated in at least one leadership program offered by the member organizations of the Collaborative. The first step in creating this active network was to learn how these Native American leaders were currently working together.

Tiwahe Foundation, working with the Native American Leadership Collaboration, contracted with Rainbow Research, Inc. to conduct a network mapping survey. This work occurred in three phases:

1. Collect Information for Maps: Alumni participated in an online survey that collected information that could be used to create network maps that visually presented how people were currently connected.

2. Share Back and Reflection: A two-part workshop was presented at the Native Americans in Philanthropy’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and 2015 Native Philanthropy Institute held at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in May 2015. The process and resulting maps were shared in an interactive session and people were invited to sign up for the first Network Weaving Coaching cohort.

3. Network Weaver Coaching Cohort: Nine alumni met nine times over six months to learn and practice. The focus of the work was to learn about networks, and the tools and approaches that help make new connections to intentionally build a resilient, active network of Native American alumni leaders. These tools also help to provide resources and opportunities for alumni to connect in a manner that supports self-determination and sovereignty.