February 8, 2024 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Foundation (SDF), the San Diego Women’s Foundation and the Avila Fund announced today four $15,000 grants, totaling $60,000, to organizations supporting local tribal communities in building healthy, sustainable and culturally relevant food systems.

“San Diego County has the largest number of tribal governments and reservations in the United States with 18 tribal reservations and four tribal nations – the Kumeyaay, Luiseño, Cupeño and Cahuilla – represented across the region,” said Pamela Gray Payton, VP, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer of SDF. “These grants represent a collaborative investment in fighting food insecurity, poverty and diet-related diseases in our local tribal communities.”

Four nonprofit organizations each received a $15,000 unrestricted grant, or grants that can be used for any purpose by the nonprofit, including:

  • Indigenous Regeneration has invested $1.5 million, revitalized 27 acres of native ecosystems, planted 5,000+ native plants, and created two outdoor education campuses, including a Tribal Farm School, since its founding in 2017.
  • Southern Indian Health Council Inc. is a Native American nonprofit organization committed to protecting and improving the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the local American Indian community by offering medical, dental, pharmacy, social, and behavioral health services, in addition to meal deliveries, produce boxes, and a shelf-stable pantry.
  • Climate Science Alliance – Tribal Working Group is a climate collaboration for the lands and cultures of Southern California’s tribes, with projects focused on advancing Indigenous climate resilience, adaptation, and/or environmental health for the collective community, including food sovereignty.
  • Campo Band of Mission Indians is a resilient, Native American community descended from the Kumeyaay Nation that plans to develop and launch a community outreach and education program centered on the importance of clean, safe drinking water and leverage additional funding for future improvements.

This funding cycle is a project of the San Diego Women’s Foundation’s Collaboration Committee, a subset of its membership that seeks to increase impact by partnering with other philanthropic funders. Separate from the annual grants process, investment opportunities are identified by a committee of contributing members, who give $500 in additional dues towards the collaborative grants pool.

“This is a great opportunity to raise the visibility of the wonderful work some of our local indigenous-led organizations and tribal communities are doing,” said Ellen Waddell, President and CEO of Avila Fund.

For millennia, Native food systems nourished communities and cultures. From farming to fishing to harvesting, these food traditions are diverse and rich, molded and shaped by geography. Federal policies promoted settler-colonialism, land theft, and forced removal of Native nations, which disrupted these food systems and lifeways, contributing to present-day food insecurity and poor health outcomes. Today, Native Americans make up less than 2% of the population of the United States and, due to a history of systemic oppression, experience some of the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty, and diet-related diseases.

Native peoples suffer disproportionately compared to non-Native populations and face systemic exclusion and discrimination from power structures and economic prosperity; they also represent less than 1% of giving.  Only 0.4% of all philanthropic funding by large U.S. foundations went to nonprofits that serve Indigenous people, according to Candid.

Additional collaborative funding partners include Avila Fund, and the SDF Environmental Initiative.

About Avila Fund

Avila Fund, a family foundation, connects individuals with the resources they need for a healthy, equitable and vibrant life. Honoring the dignity of each person. Avila promotes food security, activates social justice and advances a healthy and sustainable world.

About San Diego Foundation

San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Our strategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and delivering world-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilient communities. The Environmental Initiative seeks to preserve and protect our resources, build a more sustainable path of economic growth and ensure a higher quality of life for those who call San Diego home. For more than 48 years, SDF and its donors have granted $1.7 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.


Lorena Nava Ruggero, lruggero@sdfoundation.org, 619-814-1365