2020 Request for Applications


This grant RFA has closed and information below is provided for informational purposes

Welcome to NAAF’s 2020 Request for Applications (RFA). All grant information is located on this page; please refer to it frequently throughout the application process.

This year, we have two application processes open: 2020 RFA Process – General and 2020 RFA Process – Youth. Please see ‘Funding Areas’ below for a fuller description.

Next Steps:

We are deeply aware of the hardship and uncertainty facing our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively, we must make an even greater commitment to Native agriculture to ensure food for our people.

Like our farmers, ranchers, fishers and food people, we are in this for the long haul and we know it will take concerted efforts to stabilize our communities. By releasing our 2020 RFA now, we seek to do our part to bolster Native agriculture. Please know we will be flexible in supporting applicants who face challenges applying (see ‘COVID-19’ below).


Please reach out to NAAF at any time through email or phone call.

grants@NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org – (479) 445-6226

The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) is a private, charitable trust serving Native farmers and ranchers through strategic grantmaking in the areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and advocacy services. NAAF was created from the historic Keepseagle v. Vilsack litigation settlement.

NAAF grantmaking activities are governed by the Trust Agreement and final award decisions are made by our Board of Trustees. We constantly seek feedback from the public about funding priorities through our online survey and general emails to grants@NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org.

View Trust Agreement

Per Trust Agreement Section 8, eligible grant recipients are:

  • 501(c)(3) organizations and nonprofit organizations with a Fiscal Sponsor
  • Educational organizations
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Native CDFIs
  • Tribal governments (state and federally recognized) and their instrumentalities

Organizations applying for 501(c)(3) status, but who have not yet received that designation, may apply using a Fiscal Sponsor (see Trust Agreement Section 8(c)).

Instrumentalities of a Tribal government may mean any number of things including Tribal departments of agriculture, food authorities, or food processing/marketing entities. Tribal governments have the latitude to determine which entities are instrumentalities of their governments; NAAF only needs proper documentation as to that status.

Applicants must prove their eligibility. Examples of eligibility documentation include IRS determination letters, Tribal resolutions and charters, articles of incorporation and US Treasury letters. IRS letters assigning an EIN are not sufficient proof of eligibility.

The 2020 RFA Overview lists eight (8) distinct areas for funding. These are divided between two unique application processes: 2020 RFA Process – General and 2020 RFA Process – Youth. All targeted areas and most (3 of 4) special emphasis areas are located in 2020 RFA Process – General. The youth special emphasis area stands on its own in the 2020 RFA Process – Youth.

2020 RFA Process – General

Targeted Areas

Targeted areas are divided by entity type.

  • For 501(c)(3) organizations:
    Projects providing business assistance, agricultural education, technical support and/or advocacy services to Native farmers and ranchers (see more on pg. 13 of 2020 RFA Overview)
  • For educational organizations:
    Projects related to food and agriculture classroom programs, scholarships and curriculum development and delivery (see more on pg. 12 of 2020 RFA Overview)
  • For CDFIs:
    Projects related to loans and technical assistance (see more on pg. 11 of 2020 RFA Overview)
  • For Tribal governments:
    Projects focused on value-added agricultural enterprise development (see more on pg. 14 of 2020 RFA Overview)

Special Emphasis Areas

Special emphasis areas are divided by Native agriculture issues.

  • Traditional Foods and Food Sovereignty:
    Projects focused on expanding traditional foods and food sovereignty efforts in Tribal communities (see more on pg. 15 of 2020 RFA Overview)
  • Advocacy:
    Projects supporting the Native Farm Bill Coalition (see more on pg. 16 of 2020 RFA Overview)
  • Agriculture Extension:
    Projects related to education, research and extension of knowledge to Native farmers and ranchers (see more on pg. 17 of 2020 RFA Overview)

2020 RFA Process – Youth

Special Emphasis Area

  • Youth:
    Projects focused on engaging Native youth in agriculture (see more on pg. 16 of 2020 RFA Overview)

The NAAF 2020 Request for Applications (RFA) features a number of supporting documents to aid in the application process. Click on the name below to download a copy.

Online applicants will also find links to some of these within the online grant system. You can download directly from that platform by clicking on the name in the instructions.

A complete application is necessary for review. The online grant system will not allow applicants to submit their application until every required question or upload is complete. For paper applicants, we encourage you to double-check that you’ve answered all required questions (denoted with a star) and enclosed all required uploads in your mailed application packet.

Below is a list of all required documents:

  • Audits (if applicable)
  • Financial statements (if applicable)
  • Budget for each separate request
  • Budget narrative for each separate request
  • Proof of eligibility
  • Governing body
  • Overall budget of the applicant organization
  • Cover letter

There are five (5) informational webinars scheduled for the 2020 Request for Applications (RFA). Applicants are encouraged to register for one or more webinars below.

Download the 2020 RFA Webinar PPT.

Webinar #1

Thu, April 9th
2 – 4 pm CT

Webinar #2

Thu, April 23rd
2 – 4 pm CT

Webinar #3

Thu, May 7th
2 – 4 pm CT

Webinar #4

Thu, May 21st
2 – 4 pm CT

Webinar #5

Thu, May 28th
2 – 4 pm CT

The 2020 Request for Applications (RFA) closes on Monday, June 1st, 2020 at 11:59 pm CT. For review, online application submissions must be date-stamped by this date/time, and paper application submissions must be post-marked by this date/time.

Please see ‘COVID-19’ for an explanation of our 2-week grace period for applicants facing hardships in submitting their application.

Because of the unique circumstances we are all in during the COVID-19 situation, NAAF has added a 2-week flexibility period to ensure applicants can submit and be considered for funding. All applicants should submit their application by the stated deadline.

If the applicant has trouble with internet connections, challenges in obtaining signatures of key officials or representatives of the applicant organization, challenges in obtaining required documents, or challenges in obtaining information from project partners, they should submit as complete an application as possible and promptly send NAAF a notification by email (grants@NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org) no later than June 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CT, and request flexibility to submit additional information.

All applicants requesting flexibility by the stated deadline for submittal will be granted an additional two weeks past the stated deadline, or until June 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CT, in which to finalize their application. In their request for flexibility, the applicant must clearly state the technical challenges or information the applicant seeks flexibility to provide. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed; all applications submitted by June 15, 2020 will be reviewed for completeness, and if deemed complete, will be reviewed for possible funding.

Frequently Asked Questions

In anticipation of applicant questions, we have developed the 2020 RFA FAQs to cover topics such as applicant eligibility, awards, application process, budgets and more. As necessary, we will update the FAQs throughout the open application period.

Please contact NAAF by email (grants@NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org) or by phone (479.445.6226) for lingering questions.

Applicant Eligibility

1. Who is eligible to apply for NAAF Awards?

Organizations must be one of four types of eligible entities as identified in the Trust Agreement:

  • Nonprofit organizations with IRS Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, or if such status has not yet been achieved, such organizations may apply for funding through a Fiscal Sponsor that has received such 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status;
  • Educational organizations described in Section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including Certified Native CDFIs and Emerging Native CDFIs, provided, however, that such CDFI is a tax-exempt organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • An instrumentality of a state or federally recognized Tribe, including a non-profit organization chartered under the tribal law of a state or federally recognized Tribe, that furnishes assistance designed to further Native farming and ranching activities, provided, however, that 1) the use of any grant funds by such grant recipient is restricted exclusively to charitable and educational purposes; 2) the grant recipient is required to annually provide NAAF with audited financial statements and reports as required by NAAF; 3) if the grant recipient is a governmental entity, it is required to provide a limited waiver of sovereign immunity with respect to the NAAF’s right to enforce the terms of the grant (i.e. the amount of funding awarded); and 4) if the grant is awarded, the recipient must agree to comply with all expenditure responsibility requirements designed by NAAF. (NOTE: The limited waiver of sovereign immunity will not be required when the application is submitted; instead applicants can wait until successful award notifications have been received. The waivers must be submitted to NAAF prior to any award funding distribution.)

In addition, organizations must:

  • have provided and plan to provide business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, or advocacy services to Native farmers and ranchers
  • base their work in the United States
  • propose projects that will provide assistance designed to further Native farming and ranching activities that will directly benefit Native farmers and ranchers
  • use any award made exclusively for charitable and educational purposes described in Section 170(c)(2)(B) of the IRS Code.
2. What is an instrumentality of a Tribe? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Instrumentalities of Tribes can mean any number of things such as Tribal departments of agriculture, food authorities or even food processing or food marketing entities. Tribal governments have the latitude to determine which entities are instrumentalities of their governments; NAAF only needs proper documentation as to that status.

3. When does eligibility need to be verified? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Applicants must show eligibility as one of the four eligible grant recipient entity types by the deadline of the 2020 Request for Applications (June 1, 2020, or June 15, 2020 with an extension). If an organization is awarded a grant, eligibility must remain valid through the duration of the grant agreement period. Organizations not yet possessing necessary designations (i.e. 501(c)(3) status) are encouraged to work with a Fiscal Sponsor as opposed to waiting for a determination near the deadline.

4. Are any organizations excluded from funding?

Yes. Entities not meeting one of the non-profit, educational, CDFI or tribal-specific designation requirements in the answer to FAQ Question #1 are excluded from applying. If your organization is awaiting 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS, you are allowed to apply utilizing a fiscal sponsor.

5. I was a Keepseagle Class member. Can I receive an award from NAAF?

As described in FAQ Question #1 above, only nonprofit organizations, educational organizations, CDFIs and designated tribal entities are allowed to receive awards from NAAF. The NAAF Trust Agreement specifically outlines the entities eligible to receive grants from NAAF. Individuals are not eligible to receive grants directly under NAAF. Loans to individuals are also not allowed under the NAAF Trust Agreement, except through eligible entities. Entities receiving funds will be required to use the funds to provide services important to Native farmers and ranchers, or those seeking to become farmers and ranchers.

6. Can a for-profit entity be involved with a NAAF grant proposal? (Added on 4/24/20)

Applicants must be one of the four eligible grant recipients as described in the Trust Agreement Section 8. For-profit entities can be involved in a project as long as the applicant is eligible.

7. Who is included as “Native American” in the eligibility requirements regarding serving Native American farmers and ranchers? Are Alaskan Natives included? Are Native Hawaiians included?

NAAF is following several definitions in response to this question. A Native American includes any person who meets one or more of the requirements listed below:

  • Is a member of a Tribe, band, nation, or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation (as established in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians, also known as a “federally recognized tribe,” or
  • Is a member of any Indian group that has been formally recognized as an Indian tribe by a State legislature or other similar organization vested with State tribal recognition authority, also known as a “state recognized tribe,” or
  • Is a member of any Indian tribe or “Native group” (according to 43 U.S.C. § 1602.(c) and (d)) that asked the United States government for Federal recognition.
  • NAAF also recognizes that otherwise eligible entities serving the needs of Native Hawaiian farmers and ranchers should be considered eligible for funding through NAAF.
8. What is meant by “agriculture”? Is it limited to the specific types of agricultural activities that the USDA will consider funding through the farm loan program?

NAAF is not bound by USDA’s definition of covered agriculture for purposes of the farm loan program or other programs available through the federal government. NAAF’s preliminary definition of Native agriculture is as follows: Native agriculture reflects ancient subsistence practices. It is the gathering, producing, harvesting and preserving of plants and animals for food and fiber by Native/Indian/Indigenous people. Native agriculture supports family, community, tribe, and country, and often incorporates ceremonial, traditional and cultural values.

9. For what activities can an award be used?

Entities receiving funds will be required to use the funds to provide services important to Native farmers and ranchers, including those seeking to become farmers and ranchers, to support and promote their continued engagement in agriculture. Funds may be used for: project support, re-grants, scholarships, re-lending or capital expenditures.

10. Can we request funding for a combination of the above (project support, re-grants, scholarships and/or capital expenditures)?

Yes. A single application may include a mix of funds requested for project support, scholarships, re-grants, lending to farmers and ranchers and/or capital expenditures. For example, an applicant may request funds for program staff and re-grants together in one project budget. Project applications must follow the instructions contained within the RFA and should restrict their requested funds to the types of projects for which NAAF is seeking applications in the 2020 RFA process.

11. If we have received funding as a Fast Track grantee or as a 2019 NAAF grantee, do we need to create a new project in order to be eligible for NAAF funds?

NAAF will consider projects from 2019 grantees that describe activities for which you are seeking continuation funding. In other words, you are allowed to have a project currently underway and apply to NAAF for funding to continue the work undertaken in the project to reach new audiences or to improve original projects. Not all projects need to be new. Fast Track grantees are also allowed to seek funding for projects that are either new projects or continuations of projects begun with Fast Track funding. Future RFAs may allow for continuation funding as well, but those determinations will be made at a later date.

12. Are any activities excluded from funding?

The following applicants/uses of funds are NOT eligible under this 2019 Request for Applications:

a) Funding for entities that do not provide business assistance, agriculture education, technical support or advocacy services to Native farmers and ranchers

b) Work based outside the United States or its territories

c) Projects that do not provide assistance designed to further the success of Native farmers and ranchers or provide resources designed to further such success

d) Projects that do not provide assistance that impacts and assists individual Native farmers and ranchers

e) Projects that assist individual Native farmers and ranchers, but the services are not agriculture-related

f) Use of funds that are not restricted exclusively to charitable and educational purposes described in IRS Section 170(c)(2)(B)

g) Use of funds for litigation; however, offering of legal services important to Native farmers and ranchers is allowable (this can include, but is not limited to estate planning, land purchase agreements, understanding of legal rights, contract negotiation and other typical services important to those engaged in agriculture)

h) Use of funds for lobbying or political activity as defined by the IRS, which is influencing legislation (other forms of advocacy are eligible activities)

i) Entities that are educational organizations but that do not have an established record of working with, by and through Native farmers and ranchers are not eligible for funding, unless they partner with a Native-controlled educational organization.

13. Can awards be used to purchase agricultural land? What about improvements to the land? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Activities funded through NAAF do not explicitly allow for the purchase of land. There are other resources available for land purchase through federal lending programs and non-federal lending and granting programs. NAAF resources are to focus on business assistance, technical support, agricultural education and advocacy and while we are not opposed to land leasing, land improvement for farming or ranching or purchasing costs to be included within an applicable budget for a project that focuses on one of those four areas listed previously, we are not interested in funding projects that are solely involved in land purchase, land improvement or land rental. In addition, we are interested, should those items be included in a proposed budget, to know how those budget items will improve the success of Native farming and ranching enterprises or the individual farmers or ranchers themselves.

14. What type of capital expenditures are allowed? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Allowable capital expenditures are those that have a clear link to direct service provided to Native farmers and ranchers or project costs that directly improve or impact the resources available to Native farming and ranching enterprises or improvement of Native food systems. Capital expenditures can take many forms but are normally considered to be money spent by an organization on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets, such as land, buildings or equipment of some kind. Please reach out if you have questions.

15. How does NAAF define “charitable and educational purposes”? (Added on 4/17/2020)

IRS provides some guidance here. They define “charitable” to be activities designed to be scientific, public safety or public benefit oriented, literary and the like; in other words, activities that have a general public benefit. “Educational” can encompass training, instruction, development of capabilities and include doing so through schools, colleges, universities, trade schools, professional schools, publicly available enrichment activities, and the like.

16. How does NAAF define “youth” for the Youth Programming area? (Added on 4/17/2020)

NAAF takes a broad approach in defining the audience targeted in Youth Programming and is interested in how various Native communities view it. Typically, participants in youth programs will be in the age range of pre-school to late twenties, but we encourage you to make a clear case on how your project will define youth. Some activities that encompass “youth” also can be designed to reach audiences “young or beginning”, particularly in the farming and ranching context.

17. What types of legal services may receive funding?

Non-litigation legal services that assist Native farmers and ranchers are eligible for funding under NAAF. This includes, for example, legal services related to contract review and formation, property transactions, estate planning, credit repair, advice on farm programs, administrative appeals and general policy analysis or policy education activities and the like.

18. Can awards go to organizations that serve non-Natives?

Organizations that serve a broader population may be eligible. However, award funds would have to be directed toward Native farmers and ranchers only. For example, a youth program that works to help the next generation of farmers and ranchers nationwide could be eligible if their application proposes funding for a program targeted to Natives, such as youth on a specific reservation, but not for other programs serving non-Natives.

19. Can awards be used to serve Native communities that include, but are not limited to, farmers and ranchers?

There are many needs in the Native communities and many worthy organizations seeking to meet those needs. However, these funds must be expended in accordance with the terms of the NAAF Trust Agreement which provides that awards must only be used for the benefit of Native farmers and ranchers to support their involvement with agriculture. Thus, programs which address non-agricultural issues, such as housing, would not become eligible just because some of the individuals served happen to be Native farmers or ranchers. However, an organization that serves a broader Native population but will use award funds specifically for Native farmers and ranchers may be eligible. For example, a community development financial institution (CDFI) that makes low-interest loans to small businesses generally could receive an award if the funds were going to be used solely for making such loans to Native farmers and ranchers, but the loans must support agricultural activity.

20. How does NAAF define ‘value-added’? Does agritourism count? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Value added agriculture activities allow farmers or ranchers or food champions to capture a larger share of the consumer food dollar. These activities often refer to some sort of processing activity that increases the value of raw food products. For instance, taking strawberries and turning them into jam is considered a value-added activity; so is taking corn and making corn bread mix; taking wheat and turning it into flour. This can also mean taking food products and marketing them through special “branding” of the product, such as through placing a logo on the packaging. Sometimes this is differentiating your product (producing something differently; such as through organic, grass-fed, or regeneratively produced activities to name a few). Agritourism is also considered value-added if the activity of encouraging and promoting tourism incorporates food or agriculture-related activities.

21. Can grants include food processing activities?

In order for food processing activities to be covered, there would have to be a direct involvement of Native farmers and ranchers, not simply supporting a food processing business that might buy its inputs from Native farmers and ranchers. Thus, if a farmer wanted to expand into processing some of his or her own produce for higher market value items, or if ranchers wanted to organize a cooperatively owned slaughtering and processing facility, then such activities could be supported with NAAF funds so long as the applicant is an eligible entity identified in the Trust Agreement. If a processing plant or food hub or other processing facility making value-added food products seeks funding, the application must specifically state the involvement of Native farmers and ranchers throughout the processing activities and the benefit Native farmers and ranchers will gain by participating with the processing facility. All other eligibility requirements must also be met.

22. Can grants include research, for instance, on the health value of traditional Native foods?

Projects that focus only on research will not be considered for funding during this program cycle. In addition, projects that focus only on health-related issues will also not be considered for funding during this program cycle. NAAF will allow curriculum development to occur within a funded project scope, but only if delivery of the curriculum during the project period occurs. Stand-alone curriculum development projects will not be funded; delivery to Native farmers and ranchers is essential. NAAF is looking for projects that deliver developed content with practical application to the success of Native farmers and ranchers.

23. Are funds available for COVID-19-related relief, recovery or resilience efforts? (Added on 4/24/20)

Yes. The RFA describes the types of COVID-19 related activities for which NAAF is seeking project proposals. Please consult the RFA and if you have further questions, please contact us for further clarification.

24. Are only “faculty” eligible to apply for educational institution or agriculture extension funding opportunities?

Faculty can apply, but individuals who are on staff but are not technically faculty in an institution can also apply. Sometimes projects or activities are led by individuals who do not have full time faculty appointments but are considered staff of educational institutions or affiliated staff. So long as the person has an employment or staff relationship with the educational institution or agricultural extension office, they are eligible to apply on behalf of the entity. If awarded, the authorized official for the organization will have to sign the grant agreement on behalf of the organization.

25. Do educational organizations need to currently operate a certificate or degree program in agriculture? Do they have to partner? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Agriculture certificate or degree programs are encouraged but not required. Educational institutions can seek funding for work that is community based and does not result in a certificate or degree, so long as the activity strives to improve the skills or knowledge or support provided by the institutions within the community, related to food and agriculture issues. Partnerships between various educational organizations are encouraged but not required.


26. What is the maximum award that can be issued?

The maximum award size depends upon the type of project for which funding is sought.

27. Over what period of time must award funds be spent? May we apply now for an award that will fund future work?

Funding for specific, eligible programs may be requested for expenditures expected to be made within 24 months (2 years) of receipt of an award. NAAF will consider future requests for no cost extensions of time to complete the funded project deliverables/activities. Applicants are free to request projects of a less than 2-year time frame for implementation. Your application and related documents (budget and budget justifications) must be clear as to the length of time your project will utilize for implementation.

28. Can awards be renewed?

Project awards should be complete within 24 months of start date. NAAF will entertain future requests to continue projects awarded in this cycle. Applications submitted in the 2020 RFA process should not describe project activities past the 24-month time frame.

29. What reports are due at the end of the award period?

All successful applicants will be required to provide periodic progress reports through an online or hard-copy system. Those periodic progress reports will be required by deadlines outlined in the funding agreement which all successful applicants will be required to execute with NAAF before funds are transferred.

30. When will award recipients be announced?

Final determinations for funding will be announced as quickly as possible so that successful applicants can be notified, grant agreements finalized, and funds dispersed as soon as possible. Project start dates will be determined once this process is concluded, but all project start dates will be in 2020.

31. Will all eligible applicants receive funding?

No. There is a limited amount of money available during the 2020 RFA process and applications could exceed the total funds available to distribute. NAAF Board of Trustees will determine how much funding to release for project funding during each subsequent year. The funding levels for which applications will be sought, and the types of applications which will be sought may change from year to year.

Application Process

32. How many applications can an organization submit?

An organization is allowed to submit one application, but the application itself can include funding requests for multiple projects or a mix of allowable projects, so long as the applicant is an eligible entity for the project described and so long as a separate narrative of the project and a separate budget and budget justification are included for each component of the project is included in the application.

33. Can I submit a paper application?

Yes. Paper applications (hard copy, type-written) are allowed but must be postmarked and date- stamped no later than Monday, June 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm CDT in order to be accepted.

34. When are applications due?

Applications are due by June 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm CT. This deadline applies to online applicants and to hard-copy submittal applicants. Online applicants are required to have a completed application uploaded and submitted through the online system by this deadline; hard-copy applicants are required to send their application with a postmarked date and time stamp that is in compliance with the same deadline.

However, for the 2020 funding cycle and in light of the impacts of COVID-19, NAAF is offering all applicants an additional 15 days for final submittal. NAAF recognizes that the current impacts of COVID-19 may impact potential applicants in a number of different ways. If an applicant contacts NAAF by the June 1 deadline and requests flexibility in securing reliable electronic communications, in securing signatures and authorizations or addressing other reasonable complications in meeting the original deadline, the applicant may be allowed until June 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm CT to submit their complete application.

35. Why are Tribal or board resolutions required as part of the application process?

The NAAF Trust Agreement includes various requirements for the eligibility of applicants that will be allowed to apply for NAAF funding. If the applicant must secure a Tribal or board resolution prior to submitting proposals for funding, then those resolutions should be included in the application. If a Tribal government application requires a resolution before applications may be submitted, then those resolutions should be included in the application. Limited waivers of sovereign immunity are required by the Trust Agreement, and there is specific guidance related to those documents reflecting eligibility.

36. Can NAAF provide assistance with writing an application?

No. NAAF staff, the review panel and the NAAF Board of Trustees must remain completely unbiased in their work, which will ultimately lead to funding recommendations and final funding decisions. Therefore, the only assistance NAAF can provide is to a) help organizations determine whether or not they and their programs are eligible entities, and b) how to use the website (or a hard-copy submittal process) to submit an application, or c) specific questions providing details regarding submittal or the RFA. NAAF staff, reviewers or Trustees will not comment on or strategize with applicants concerning their particular project.

37. Can I include visuals (pictures, graphs, charts, etc.) in my online application? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Yes. Since the text section does not allow for visuals, you will need to save them all as a PDF (only one file allowed) and upload it at the end under ‘Support Letters’. Please reach out to us if you have questions.


38. What does NAAF look for in a project budget?

NAAF will take into consideration the size of the budget request in relation to the organization’s annual operating budget and its existing expenditures on programs serving Native farmers and ranchers. Another factor NAAF will consider will be a demonstration of the applicant’s ability to manage the funds awarded.

39. Are smaller project budgets considered less impactful? Are larger project budgets discouraged? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Smaller budgets projects can be just as impactful as larger budget projects. The work you want to do should match the budget you are thinking is necessary to reach your goals and outcomes.

40. Are indirect expenses allowed to be covered in the application budget? If so, what is the percentage allowed?

Indirect expenses of up to 15% are allowed. NAAF reserves the right to raise or lower indirect costs allowed within future RFA processes, based on stakeholder comments and the successes or challenges faced by successful applicants during implementation of their project.

41. What are indirect costs? How does an applicant calculate indirect costs? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Indirect costs represent the expenses of doing business that are not readily identified in specific activities but are necessary for the general operation of the organization or to support the conduct of the activities. This can include accounting or legal expenses, office expenses, rent, telephone expenses, utilities and the like. Indirect costs can apply to more than one activity within an organization while project-specific costs (or direct costs) are specific to the unique activity you are trying to accomplish. If you need more information, please let us know.

42. Is there a cap on indirect a non-intermediary may receive from an award?

Yes. We understand that effective programs require some overhead for staff and other expenses. However, we also must ensure that as much of these funds as possible is put to work directly benefitting Native farmers and ranchers. Please see the response to FAQ Question #27.

43. What are matching or in-kind funds? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Guidelines for what is considered matching or in-kind funds can vary funder to funder. Some organization require applicants to provide cash match; some organizations require applicants to provide in-kind match. In-kind is a form of matching dollars and can refer to such things as personnel, goods or services that are identified by applicants as being contributed to the overall support of a project. NAAF does not require matching (cash or in-kind); however, NAAF funds (if your application is funded) can be used as federal match because NAAF funds are considered private in nature. If you need more information, please let us know.

44. Are matching funds required?

No. Cost share, in-kind or matching funds is not required for NAAF funding. However, while not required, these funds can be listed or noted as such in the grant application budget or budget narrative. In-kind, third party contributions are encouraged but not required. An application will be reviewed to see if the entity applying has the capacity to responsibly manage an award. An organization should seek funding commensurate with its capacity. Please note that NAAF funds, if awarded, are not considered federal funds and as such may be used to meet federal matching funds required, as appropriate.


45. What is an intermediary? Are intermediary projects allowed?

An intermediary is an organization that makes grants to support other, smaller organizations or which provides funding to individuals or groups, such as through scholarships or regrants or loans. Intermediary projects are allowed. However, intermediary applicants must be clear as to their role in the project described and must identify how they will monitor success within their described project.

46. What additional requirements are there for intermediaries?

Applicants for intermediary funding must demonstrate a record of successfully assisting nonprofits and communities, normally including experience in grantmaking, scholarships or loans, and that they have the ability to provide adequate due diligence for a re-granting, loan or scholarship program.

47. Does a CDFI apply as a regular applicant or an intermediary?

If a CDFI seeks funds specifically to make grants or low-interest loans, the intermediary section of the application should be included and their role in the project must be detailed.

Review Process and Evaluation Criteria

48. What criteria or factors will be considered when reviewing or evaluating applications?
  • Proposed Results (30% weight). The extent to which the project includes clear statements of what the applicant anticipates Native farmers and ranchers will understand, analyze, develop, decide, or implement through participation in the project; how realistic and attainable the estimated number of Native farmers and ranchers to be reached is; the relative level of rigor associated with the Native farmer and rancher activities; and the degree to which the results anticipated speak to NAAF priorities. This category also will focus on whether the results as identified as a priority for investment of NAAF funds are important to the intended audience. As to CDFI applicants, the applicant will examine the amount and number of potential loans it will provide to Native farmers and ranchers. For educational organizations or education-focused projects, the applicant will describe the number of students and/or current or future Native farmers and ranchers to be served and the proposed results from the project within this target audience, including the benefits students will experience by engaging with the project. For Tribal governments, the applicant should discuss the proposed results that investment in the proposed activity will provide for Native farmers and ranchers. Discussion of proposed results should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Farmer and Rancher Demand (20% weight). The applicant must demonstrate that the demand for the proposed activities exists within the Native farmer and rancher community they are seeking to serve. They must describe Native farmer and rancher willingness to participate in the activities proposed and the indicators (if any) that reflect interest in the proposed project activities. The clear identification of the intended audience is required, as is the identification of the location of the intended audience. As to CDFI applicants, the applicant will examine the demand for loans among an identified target audience. As to educational organizations or education-focused projects conducted by nonprofit organizations or by Tribal governments, the applicant will discuss perceived demand for the content being delivered through the proposed project and should also project the number of anticipated participants. For Tribal governments, the applicant should discuss the demand for agricultural activities among those Native farmers and ranchers who will be affected by and served through the funded project. Discussion of Native farmer and rancher demand should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Team/Organizational Capacity and Collaborators (15% weight). NAAF is interested in evaluating the skills, knowledge and experience of the project team and organization to effectively deliver on the project activities as proposed, and NAAF is interested in encouraging and supporting effective collaborations that will increase the likelihood of Native farmer and rancher success and participation in the project. Effectiveness is demonstrated by skills, knowledge and experience in the area and access to Native farmers and ranchers. Among CDFIs, applicants will describe the qualifications and experience of the team within the organization focused on loan and/or technical assistance delivery to Native farmers and ranchers. Among educational organizations, nonprofit organizations or tribal governments, the applicant will identify the relative qualifications and experience of primary project personnel and any identified partners or collaborators. For Tribal governments, the applicant should discuss the skills and/or professional qualifications of those who will be engaged for the project. Discussion of team/organizational capacity and collaborators should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Impact on Access to Credit (10% weight). NAAF is interested in projects that encompass addressing the core issues regarding Native farmer and rancher access to credit. All applicants will identify how and to what extent the project focuses on core access to credit issues of Native farmers and ranchers. As the issue of access to credit is important to NAAF regardless of the project funded, all project eligible entities should discuss the impact on improving access to credit for Native farmers and ranchers. For all project applicants, the applicant should discuss what impact the project will have on the improved ability of Native farmers and ranchers to access credit and/or their successfulness. Discussion of impact on access to credit should be addressed within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Evaluation (10% weight). The effectiveness of the plan for evaluating and tracking Native farmer and rancher success or participation (results) is required. NAAF will examine whether these results are measurable and whether there is a good plan for tracking results. For all categories of eligible entities and project focus areas, the applicant should identify how results will be achieved and in what manner, as well as the plans for evaluating and tracking target audience success or participation. Be as specific as possible. For educational organizations, the applicant should discuss what the anticipated results of education content delivery will be among the target audience of Native farmers and ranchers or future Native farmers and ranchers. For Tribal governments, the applicant should discuss what result the funding of the proposed project will have on the ability to track success among Native farmers and ranchers served by the project. Discussion of results proposed should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Innovation (10% weight). NAAF will evaluate the extent to which the project employs innovative approaches to develop or deliver business assistance, technical support, agricultural education or advocacy and the materials or tools to do so; and how well the applicant builds upon existing knowledge in the field and/or collaborates with others so that broader dissemination of knowledge can occur and more efficient use of tools can be achieved. For all categories of eligible entities or projects, this category will identify and discuss innovative aspects of the project design and delivery methods. Discussion of innovation proposed should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
  • Wide application and replicability (5% weight). NAAF is interested in the extent to which the proposed project might have wider application, allow for adaptation to specialized audiences, improve marketing and promotion techniques, encourage new methodologies or have intertribal application and replicability. For all types of eligible applicants or projects, this category will identify and discuss replicability potential. Discussion of application and potential replicability should be included within each of the Special Emphasis areas for which funding may be sought by an eligible applicant.
49. What are some examples of “impact on access to credit” for organizations not providing loans? (Added on 4/17/2020)

Access to credit can be improved by a variety of ways: improved access to technology; improved record-keeping skills; credit repair activities; business planning skills improvement; marketing planning skills improvement; advocating on behalf of Native farmers and ranchers so that their access to banking and financial services is improved; and activities that help people analyze and plan for mitigating risks they might face, to name a few.

50. Does NAAF have a conflict of interest policy?

Yes. All NAAF staff and all NAAF Board of Trustee members are required to comply with Conflict of Interest policies. Anyone involved in evaluating the applications will recuse themselves from evaluating any applications from organizations or entities with which they have a conflict of interest or an appearance of conflict of interest.

51. What will happen after I submit an application?

Applications will be screened first to determine whether the applicant is an eligible entity. If the applicant is an eligible entity their application will be reviewed by the review panel. All applications will be reviewed by the review panel unless they have been disqualified for one of three reasons: 1) failure to provide evidence of eligible entity status; 2) failure to include all required forms and information within their submitted application; or 3) failure to submit their application by the relevant closing deadline. The review panel will consider all evaluation criteria factors when deciding which organizations to submit to the Board of Trustees for final decisions for possible funding.

52. What will happen to the information and documents I submit during the NAAF process?

All information and documents received during this process are held in confidence and will become a part of the records of NAAF. All current and former applications will have access to their former applications in a secure dashboard found on NAAF’s application page.

53. Does the 501(c)(3) requirement mean that 7871 Tribal governments are not eligible without a sponsor?

The Trust Agreement is very specific about eligible entities. Two of the types of organizations are 501(c)(3) and Tribal governments. In order to secure Section 7871 status, applicants must prove that they are an instrumentality of a single tribe or group of multiple tribes. Therefore, Section 7871 entities might be able to come under either of these definitions depending on their status. All applicants need to study carefully the language of the Trust Agreement so that you provide necessary documentation of eligibility. If the 7871 organizations can fall under either of these requirements, with or without fiscal sponsors that are clearly qualified under one of the four entities, then they are encouraged to apply. All applicants must include some documentation reflecting their eligibility.

54. Is there a template for the limited waiver of sovereign immunity that is required?

Because the limited waiver of sovereign immunity must be provided by an authorized official of the Tribal government, NAAF is not requiring a certain template be used. The resolution or statement must be provided on Tribal government letterhead and signed by an appropriate and authorized official.

55. Does the full application have to be submitted in one work session? Or can we upload part of the application and come back in another session to finish?

ou can ‘Save’ and then later submit your application. If you have problems, please contact our NAAF team to work through any technical issues associated with your application.

Contacts and Additional information

56. If I have questions about eligibility, the application process or the application website, how can I get answers? Is there a way to contact someone to ask questions not covered in this FAQ document?

Please be advised that NAAF staff can only answer questions pertaining to the application system, the RFA and the application process. We cannot advise you on your application scope, project design, budget, or application responses to questions. To provide information, NAAF will receive questions through multiple avenues:

Webinars on the application process will be conducted on:

a) After the webinars, a recording will be archived and will be accessible from the NAAF website at NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org/grants-webinar.

b) Assistance by email is available by sending your question(s) to grants@NativeAmericanAgricultureFund.org.

c) Assistance by phone is available by calling 479.445.6226 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

There are five (5) informational webinars scheduled for the 2020 Request for Applications (RFA). Applicants are encouraged to register for one or more webinars below.

Download the 2020 RFA Webinar PPT.

2020 RFA Webinar #1

2020 RFA Webinar #2

2020 RFA Webinar #3

2020 RFA Webinar for TCUs

2020 RFA Webinar #4

2020 RFA Webinar #5