2015 Fall Awardee Poster

Potlatch Fund is proud to support Language Presevation and Education in Northwest Indian Country. Here is how you can help.

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Grantmaking: Language Preservation and Education

In 2017, Potlatch Fund is embarking on a three-year grant strategy to increase the capacity of Language Preservation and Education Fund grantees. It is our desire to fund the development of language transfer systems and we will offer grants that support this goal. Grant support will be offered for: community language assessments (2017), development of a strategic plan (2018), and the implementation of the strategy (2019). Successful grantees can apply in subsequent years but are not required to complete all three years. Grantees that do not conduct the Potlatch Fund community language assessment tool in 2017 will be required to submit another current survey as an equivalent.

Language is an integral part of identity and yet, many Indigenous languages are critically endangered. Language revitalization and preservation is at its essence about creating a plan and system in which to transfer the language from speakers to non-speakers. A truly revitalized language is one that is passed from parent to child through the natural process of learning language and is reinforced in the community on a daily basis. All efforts of revitalization including preservation in essence are parts of building a sufficiently large language community to re-spark the natural process of learning language. A foundation of highly skilled, educated, and effective language teachers, supported by curricula/teaching materials, will help to put in place sustainable systems of language transfer.

Grantees will be required to complete and submit Potlatch Fund's Community Language Assessment questionnaire. To preview the questionnaire, please check back soon

However, due to the difficult history of colonization and assimilation, this language knowledge, context and opportunity has been damaged and does not function this way. Language preservation is an exceptionally difficult task in most instances as speakers are increasingly limited. Many Native communities struggle with the lack of data, knowledge and capacity about how best to create a plan to preserve, maintain and/or revitalize their language, much less the resources to support such a critical and intensive effort. Many Native communities struggle to best understand where to focus limited resources and efforts in order to start and empower their journey around language preservation and revitalization.

As a result, Potlatch Fund is committing its Language Preservation and Education resources to support Native communities in their planning, capacity building and implementation efforts to build plans and systems to support the transfer of language from speakers to non-speakers in their community. All efforts supported by the Potlatch Fund ultimately should be on a path that maintains or builds capacity to create new adult and/or children speakers of a Native language.

For 2017, this grant cycle will open on Tuesday, May 9, and close on Wednesday, June 14.

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  • Grants will be awarded in amounts up to $10,000.
  • For 2017, funding will only be provided to complete a community language assessment.
  • Potlatch Fund will provide up to 50% of total project expenses. Example: A grant request of $5,000 must coincide with a project budget of $10,000 or more. Grantees are allowed and encouraged to consider in-kind donations of volunteer time, materials and/or supplies. To estimate the standardized per-hour dollar value of volunteer time that may be reflected in your project budget, please see:
  • Applicants may only receive funding for one Potlatch Fund grant per calendar year.
  • Applicants must be located, and provide services, in: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or Montana.


  • Increase funds to Northwest Native-led groups, initiatives, programs and projects specifically focused on effective and efficient language preservation and education.
  • Support and strengthen the capacity of programs or projects engaged in language transfer strategies through preservation and education.
  • Provide a vehicle to increase access to and leverage of language documentation efforts.
  • Support the advancement of language transfer through programming that fosters the inclusion of cultural identities through language.

Successful Applications will Demonstrate

  • How the proposed work utilizes effective and efficient language transfer strategies in classes and cultural programs.
  • How the proposed work leads to a strong positive impact on the community.
  • The applicant's ability to access resources (e.g., philanthropic funds, volunteers, in-kind donations of materials and supplies) from other sources.
  • The applicant's ability to carry out the proposed work (e.g., adequate staff and/or volunteers, partnerships, etc.).

Please note, funding is limited to our service area: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.