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SAN FRANCISCO — Wells Fargo last week announced a $20 million grant initiative to help increase economic opportunities in Native American communities in six states. 

The San Francisco-based financial services company said its “Invest Native” initiative aims to work with Native-led organizations to address housing, small business, financial health, and sustainability issues among Native American communities in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

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The new grant program builds on the company's five-year, $50 million commitment to address American Indian and Alaska Native communities' unique economic, social and environmental needs, according to a statement.  

“We are looking to build on relationships cultivated over many years and to strengthen the capacity of Native-led organizations so they can serve more people,” Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, said in a statement.  

Over the next two years, the Invest Native initiative will fund programs to help increase single- and multi-family housing construction, access to capital for small businesses and consumers, and financial health programs. The initiative will also invest in tools to help Native Americans build assets and conduct research that sheds light on the distinctive needs of Native communities. 

In a statement, Wells Fargo announced three Native-led community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that will each receive a $500,000 grant through the program: 

  • Lakota Funds will work with South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (SDNHOC) on expanding access to housing and preserving community housing to significantly increase homeownership in Native communities across South Dakota.
  • Native Community Capital, which is partnering with New Mexico Tribal Homeownership Coalition to strengthen homeownership throughout the state. The long-term objective is to build a campaign around model mortgage lending and homeownership activities that address the unique status of tribal trust lands. The New Mexico Tribal Homeownership Coalition's sole purpose is to advance homeownership in tribal communities.
  • Four Bands Community Fund will team up with Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition to increase capital to Native entrepreneurs and drive small business growth.

Wells Fargo also said it is working with Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit firm that works with Tribes, Tribally Designated Housing Entities, Native CDFIs and Native nonprofits.

Wells Fargo provides services to more than 400 tribal entities through branches on or near tribal lands across 12 states, according to the company’s statement. 

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