Longmont, Colorado, Nov. 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, as Native American Heritage Month begins across the United States, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) acknowledged three additional underwriters for its recently-announced project to revitalize Native American languages.

In August, First Nations announced a three-year project that will support language immersion education programs in tribal communities. This three-year, $4.2 million project will aim to leverage a $2.1 million National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) challenge grant with an additional $2.1 million in support from other private funding sources.

First Nations is excited to have received a total of $700,000 in matching funds for year one of this project from the following funding partners.

“We are thrilled that these visionary organizations have stepped up in a big way to make this project happen, and we’re sincerely grateful for their support in helping retain and revitalize Native languages,” said Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. With these funding partners matching NEH’s contributions, First Nations will kick off year one of the project in 2018 offering nearly $1 million in direct grants to Native communities actively engaged in language immersion efforts.

“Language is a vital asset for Native people and communities,” Foxworth added. “It defines who we are, where we come from, and value systems that, in many ways, cannot be translated into English. Besides these generous supporters, we welcome additional funding partners to join us in protecting languages as a vital asset.”

"Kalliopeia Foundation has worked with First Nations for 15 years with their Native Youth and Culture Fund, and this new collaboration presents an extraordinary opportunity to deepen our commitment to language immersion,” said Sohrob Nabatian, Program Officer at the Kalliopeia Foundation. “Native languages are powerful agents of cultural, spiritual and ecological renewal, and we consider it a true privilege to contribute to their revitalization."

There are currently about 150 Native languages spoken in the U.S., many of them spoken only by a small number of elders. Without intervention, many of these languages are expected to become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years, which means a significant loss of cultural heritage. Under the project, First Nations will provide grant support for curriculum development, technology access, and recruitment and training of teachers for 12 Native language immersion programs a year during the three-year project period.

Language retention and revitalization programs have been recognized as providing key benefits to Native American communities by boosting educational achievement and student retention rates. They also support community identity, Native systems of kinship, and management of community, cultural, and natural resources.

Through new initiative, First Nations seeks to stem the loss of Indigenous languages and cultures by supporting new generations of Native American language speakers, and establishing infrastructure and models for Native language immersion programs that may be replicated in other communities.

About First Nations Development Institute

For 37 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information about First Nations, visit www.firstnations.org.

Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President
rfoxworth@firstnations.org or (303) 774-7836 x207

Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer
rblauvelt@firstnations.org or (303) 774-7836 x213