Programs Strategy

We approach our work through a conceptual model that recognizes the interconnectedness, reciprocity, inclusiveness, equality, and continuity based in many Indigenous traditions and communities rooted in their home place. This allows us to see how each aspect of our grant partners’ work relates to the whole and allows us to appreciate the dynamics of our relationships with partners based on lived experiences, accountability to place, guided by Indigenous perspectives and knowledge.

The unprecedented global crisis we are facing shows a world of deep inequalities, where old and new forms of dispossession have devastated the complex fabric of life. Responding to the crisis requires a shift of mindset, and that we address the underlying causes rather than only the symptoms. Responding from the perspective of trust-based solidarity philanthropy, Swift Foundation strives to operate a strategically holistic program that support partners toward the making of a just, resilient, self-determined future in balance.

A Holistic Approach

The following visual depicts our approach: concentric circles composed of parallel strategies radiating around a circle of core values, and hence an enduring vision. Each concentric circle is in some way aligned with and/or accountable to the inner circles, allowing us to see how each aspect of the work our partners do relates to the whole. In this way, there are no separate program areas, rather distinctions in nuance and approach. The intent here, for our part, is to pay attention to relationship, holistic methodology, and stay accountable to our vision, with an emphasis on balance and inter-relationships across all four circles. The Circular Approach embodies our philosophy, principles, and values that define our mission and is our comprehensive holistic approach to programs. Indigenous Peoples around the world use processes similar to manage complexity in their biocultural systems. We therefore are deeply indebted to the Elders who have carried these traditions into contemporary times.

The Core Circle

These partners are Indigenous peoples’ organizations, NGOs, movements, collectives, networks, land defenders, farmers, local communities, community-based organizations, and social movements, whose work most closely aligns with protecting Mother Earth, maintaining, nurturing and perpetuating knowledge, and cultural and spiritual lifeways. 

Strategies include: Farming, wild harvesting, language revitalization, protection and promotion of Indigenous traditional knowledge and innovations, cultural affirmation, community learning and revitalization land protection, biodiversity conservation and use, regenerative and solidarity economies/enterprises, policy from the ground up, local implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and integrated mitigation-adaptation to climate change.

The Inner Circle

These partners are community-based organizations, cooperatives and small business collectives, grassroots NGO’s, and Indigenous led foundations whose goal is collective envisioning of alternative futures with more diversity, resilience, harmony, equity and justice. 

Strategies include: Inclusive local solidarity economy building, land and/or infrastructure, community-owned energy, regenerative and agroecological approaches to farming, localized food systems, ground-up legal and policy advocacy.

The Outer Circle

These partners include regional and international NGOs, indigenous and social movements, research organizations, and human rights organizations whose goal is knowledge co-production, learning, providing strategic support to indigenous and local community initiatives threatened by state, corporate, or other forces; advocacy and actions towards changing unjust systems, enabling new forms of partnerships and alliances to advocate, support, protect and promote the spread and deepening of initiatives in the Core and Inner circles.

Strategies include:  Research that challenges and problematizes technocratic solutions such including GMO’s, gene drives, geo-engineering, or otherwise supports and advances real solutions such as agroecology and Indigenous based approaches to farming and land management, publishing reports, articles, policy, legal advocacy and/or alliance building to call out land grabs, false solutions, human rights abuses.

The Periphery Circle

These partners are philanthropic alliances and networks motivated by promoting systemic change through solidarity philanthropy, specific media organizations and/or initiatives.

Strategies include: Philanthropic education, funders networks, investigative reporting.

Where We Fund

We prioritize and predominately fund the work arising from Indigenous people and their local communities, as well as local and/or community-based organizations who are responsible to their home places in solidarity with neighboring Indigenous communities. We fund organizations across the Americas and otherwise network-based organizations internationally. We emphasize funding support for work based on a holistic and integrated approach grounded in local knowledge and expertise. We honor Indigenous Peoples free, prior, and informed consent and self-determination.

Grant Guidelines

Swift Foundation considers grant proposals through recommendations from our board members, staff, partner organizations and colleagues in the field. We do not accept unsolicited proposals but will respond to inquiries as we are able to.

Grant proposals are invited quarterly. The board reviews four seasonal dockets a year. Most first-time grants are between $20,000 and $35,000 with longer term grants generally ranging $40,000-$80,000. Swift Foundation funds both one-time programmatic grants while prioritizing long term partnerships with multi-year general support funding. Discretionary grants (of $2,000-$10,000) are considered throughout the year.

The foundation strives to forge trusting relationships built on honesty and accountability.