Protecting the Sacred Grant Program

Grant Application Guidelines

About Sacred Fire Foundation 

The mission of Sacred Fire Foundation is to ensure the continuance of ancestral wisdom and to expand awareness of the critical and timely importance of the Indigenous worldview, for all people and for future generations. We envision a global society that prioritizes balance, community, and connection, and helps to sustain all life on Earth.

About the Protecting the Sacred Grant Program

To further the mission of Sacred Fire Foundation, our grant program, Protecting the Sacred, provides modest grants and organizational support for Indigenous wisdom-keepers and their communities to assist them in maintenance of traditional ways and the realization of a sustainable future rooted in Indigenous values. We fund projects around the world that reflect, support, or restore spiritual and cultural practices based in ancestral wisdom. 

Grant Focus Areas

Projects may fall into one or several of the following focus areas:

  1. Awareness Building:

We support projects that document Indigenous wisdom and worldviews in such a way that they can be shared with the rest of humankind. Indigenous ancestral wisdom might seem far removed from our lives, yet it is a treasure trove for all of humanity, allowing us to learn from the experience accumulated through millennia by Indigenous Peoples in relating to each other and the natural world in a more balanced and respectful way.

  1. Earth Stewardship:

Indigenous Peoples are at the front-line of environmental devastation as their sacred lands become targets for exploitation and economic gain. We support projects that protect our Earth and promote the values of reciprocity and respect that are at the heart of sustainable living.

  1. Education: 

We support projects that teach and inspire children and youth to learn from and participate in the traditional practices of their peoples: singing their songs, following their ceremonial cycles, and learning about traditional knowledge and healing ways.

  1. Food and Healing:

We support projects in Indigenous communities aimed at keeping traditional food, healing sources, and practices alive, both for the sustenance of the people and the creation of awareness about the ways in which the earth continually supports us, individually and collectively.

  1. Language, Art and Culture:

We support projects that revitalize Indigenous languages and arts, celebrating the richness of diversity necessary for cultures to flourish. 

  1. Ritual and Ceremony:

We support the rituals and ceremonies of Indigenous Peoples that strengthen the fabric of connection between humans, the ancestors, the sacred and the natural world. 

  1. Youth:

We support projects that help Indigenous youth understand and value their ancestral culture with dignity and strength, and to incorporate modernity in their lives in a balanced and effective way. The link between youth and elders is essential to the continuance of wisdom and the survival of cultures.

Who can apply?

Awards will be made to individuals, groups and organizations whose initiatives are complementary to and further the mandate of Sacred Fire Foundation. Ideally, applicants are a community/organization/group/association of Indigenous Peoples and have non-profit status or a fiscal sponsor with non-profit status. Organizations that are not a 501(c)(3) exempt organization may be considered but will receive an Internal Revenue Service form 1099 from Sacred Fire Foundation. 

What are the requirements?

  1. The application directly benefits an organization and/or a project that is Indigenous-led and has originated from within the community it will benefit.
  2. The maximum available for each project is US $5,000. The budget submitted must be based on a realistic assessment of local costs. The budget must be expressed in U.S. dollars.
  3. Sacred Fire Foundation considers the contribution that Indigenous participants make to the development of the projects in their own communities. It is important to consider this contribution and describe it in the budget, though the contribution need not be quantifiable (ie. cultural practices, traditional knowledge and spiritual resources). 
  4. The timetable/calendar must be included, indicating the anticipated activities for the project over a period of 12 months. The date used to determine the 12-month period will be the date of Sacred Fire Foundation’s acceptance letter. 
  5. Grantees need to fully complete the first grant cycle, and comply with all reporting requirements, prior to considering re-applying to SFF. Applications from former grantees who have failed to submit a report will not be accepted. 
  6. Sacred Fire Foundation limits funding to 5 years per organization and/or project.  During this time period, we encourage the grantee to find additional sources of funding to support the sustainability of the organization and/or project. Grants are based on availability of funds, project performance, and compliance with progress and financial reporting requirements. 
  7. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

How to apply?

Applications will only be submitted online via the SFF grant application. Applications can be submitted in English or Spanish. If the applicant needs assistance, please contact Mercedes Caso at

When to apply?

The Grant Cycle opens on February 15 and closes on March 15, 2019. Applications must be received no later than March 15 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.  

Results will be announced to all applicants via email on June 15, 2019.

Selection Criteria 

The Sacred Fire Foundation will consider the following criteria when making its granting decisions:

  1. If the organization and/or project is Indigenous-led and has originated from within the community it will benefit. To determine project and organization leadership, we will favor those organizations with a majority (more than 51%) of Indigenous leadership in their organizational structure. 
  2. The extent to which the initiative and the Foundation’s interests are compatible with the support and/or restoration of ancestral wisdom, Indigenous perspectives, and/or cultural or traditional spiritual practices.
  3. The specific issue or situation that the project addresses and the relevance and contribution of the proposed project to the issue or situation.
  4. The primary and secondary benefits that would accrue as a result of the initiative, especially the extent of long-term benefits.
  5. The extent of the community’s volunteer involvement and contribution toward furthering the goals or desired impact described in the application.
  6. The extent to which the initiative encourages or enhances cooperation and relationships between and amongst different groups.
  7. The potential for the grant to be used to leverage additional funds from other funding sources for the same purposes, if required.
  8. For requests that will produce a permanent program or project, evidence that the applicant organization plans to and is capable of financially sustaining the effort beyond the end of the award period.

For additional information, please visit our web page to learn about our past grantees, the types of projects funded, and grant amounts. 

Restrictions and Conditions

  1. Awards will be made with the understanding that Sacred Fire Foundation assumes no obligation or commitment to provide additional support to the applicant organization.
  2. Awards will not be made toward the support of political campaigns or attempts to influence a legislature or any other governmental body.
  3. Awards will be made without discrimination on the basis of age, color, race, religion, sex, disability, veteran status, or national origin, and only to eligible recipients who do not unlawfully discriminate on these same criteria.
  4. Project extensions and/or report submissions may be requested and approved if circumstances are justified.
  5. Non-allowable expenses: 
  • First-class travel including: airfare, accommodation, car rentals, meal costs, etc., unless conditions require this for the success of the project
  • International travel costs unless unavoidable for the success of the project
  • Entertainment expenses for purposes other than those directly related to meeting program objectives as defined and agreed on in the proposal
  • Pre-grant costs (i.e., project costs generated during the preparation of a
    proposal for the same project)
  • Endowment campaigns
  • Construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities, with the exception of sacred and ceremonial buildings
  • Regular salaries of pre-grant permanent staff
  • Discretionary or emergency/disaster requests
  • Scholarships and fellowships
  • Missionary projects
  • Deficit funding

Learnings and Reporting

Grantees will be required to collect information throughout the duration of the grant for reporting purposes. The purpose of reporting is to be able to share findings and experiences, challenges and lessons, as well as positive changes or improvements that the project has fostered. Based on the length of the project, grantees may be required to submit an interim and/or a final report. The reports should include evidence (quantified if possible) that will permit Sacred Fire Foundation to evaluate the success of its financial support. 

Following is a guide of the information that will be requested:

  • Attainment of goals

What were some of the biggest changes generated as a result of the grant? Discuss how your program met (or was unable to meet) each of its goals as defined by your organization in its grant application. Include any specific achievements or setbacks encountered.

  • Lessons Learned

What have you learned? What, if anything, would you do differently or change in the future? Based on your proposed goals, would you consider the program successful?  Please explain your answer.

  • Quantitative Information

Number of people who benefited and participated in the program? Name and number of community(ies) impacted by the project? If available, please describe the ages and genders of the beneficiaries of the project.

  • Financial Report

Attach a financial report for the program, as defined by your organization in its grant application, including project budget vs actual information. Where applicable, please include a narrative to describe the use of funds and share the amount your organization raised for this project in addition to Sacred Fire Foundation funds.

  • Supporting Materials

Please include supporting materials such as video, photos and testimonials.

We are happy to provide any additional clarification and answer any questions you might have. Contact Mercedes Caso- Director of Grantmaking at 

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