Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 21 Sep 2019 12am







    Saturday, September 21, 2019-2:55:10P.M.






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ANA grant-writing expert conducts seminar

ON Wednesday, Administration for Native Americans or ANA grant-writing expert Susan White led an all-day seminar instructing local non-profit and government representatives on how to strengthen their ANA grant applications.

“She’s a powerhouse and we’re lucky to have her,” said Emma Perez, who has led similar seminars and who wrote a successful ANA grant for 500 Sails, which she co-founded. “She was instrumental in 500 Sails submitting and receiving our ANA grant, so I’m so happy she’s here.”

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Susan White offers advice and guidance to potential grantees.

ANA grants offer hundreds of thousands of dollars to fledgling non-profits who intend to serve indigenous communities and preserve and strengthen indigenous culture. Eligible indigenous groups include American Indians in federally- and state-recognized tribes, Alaskan natives in Alaskan tribes, native Hawaiians, American Samoans, Chamorros, and Carolinians.

The grants span one to three years and fall under three categories: Social and Economic Development Strategy, Language Preservation and Maintenance, and the Esther Martinez Initiative, which funds immersion schools.

Perez said that she has been to ANA seminars with only a handful of attendees. But yesterday, over 25 hopeful applicants filled the bottom floor of Giovanni’s at the Hyatt.

“Just in this room today, we probably saw about fifteen clear ANA projects,” Susan White told Variety. “I think there’s huge potential here.”

“I think where our limits lie is that there isn’t much money available under the Administration for Native Americans.”

According to White, only about one in ten applications receive funding. But she added that the CNMI wins a disproportionally high amount of ANA grants given that about 43 are given out per year and there are already three ongoing ANA-funded projects on Saipan alone.

“Those of you who do apply, we’re going to be giving you direct personal assistance,” she told attendees. “We’ll work with you one-on-one to get through it and get it done, both here on island and electronically off island as well.”

 “This isn’t just writing for ANA, it’s also just grant writing,” she added. “ANA has the highest standards for grant writing… If you can write an ANA grant, you can write for any federal agency.”

Attendees sought grants for a variety of projects, including improving access to healthy, locally-grown produce; preserving and revitalizing indigenous languages; “beautifying” or remodeling homes to make them stronger and safer; offering CNMI students the opportunity to travel across the archipelago and become cultural practitioners and ambassadors; developing a center for independent living for disabled people and elders; and offering assistance to homesteaders on Pagan. 

Joe Gardinier, an attendee who hopes to fund his mini-home makeover non-profit, said that the workshop helped him gain “much-needed knowledge” that would assist him not only in applying for ANA funding but for funding “from organizations all over the world.”

“The standard of ANA is giving me the skillset necessary to go after some of the not-as-stringent grants,” he said.

Tayna Belyeu-Camacho, who is seeking funding for a collaborative and inter-island cultural exchange program that would offer CNMI youth the opportunity to travel across the Marianas archipelago and “become culturally competent and aware of their environment,” said she found the ANA grant meeting “extremely helpful.”

“The grant training helped me to have a better understanding of the grant requirements,” she said. “I particularly enjoyed the facilitated discussions using potential projects from various groups. I found this very beneficial as it provided the participants with the opportunity to learn from each other as well as receive immediate feedback on how to strengthen their application.”

White, who has been working with ANA grants since 1979, said she has spent her career committed to helping communities apply for these grants because of the way the funding opportunities are structured to empower local indigenous organizations.

“This particular federal funding source responds to the community and what the community needs are… the community brings their needs to [the federal government] as opposed to the federal government telling them what they need to do.”

“I think it transfers the responsibility to the community to solve their own challenges.”