Identifying Dimensions of Montana Tribal Community Capacity in Relation to the Funding Application Process

Maja R. Pedersen, The University of Montana


Foundations and government agencies have historically played a critical role in supporting community-based health promotion programs (Easterling, Gallagher & Lodwich, 2003). Despite availability of federal and state funding for health promotion efforts within American Indian reservation communities in Montana, tribal communities in the state are less likely than non-tribal communities to successfully apply for funding for health and social services (Lonsdale, T., personal communication, April 1, 2011). Increased access to health promotion funding may help address significant health issues existing within American Indian communities such as childhood obesity, diabetes type 2, and cardiovascular disease (Ogden, Flegal, Carroll & Johnson, 2002; Brown, Noonan, Friede & Giroux, 2008; Cooper, Andersen, Wederkopp, Page & Frosberg, 2005; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009). Understanding the relationship between the capacity of American Indian (AI) communities to successfully apply for and receive funding and the capacity of funding agencies to effectively receive applications from and partner with tribal communities may serve to increase resources for health promotion efforts within tribal communities in Montana. This exploratory qualitative study completed 17 semi-structured interviews across three AI reservations in the state of Montana. Dimensions of community capacity within the context of the funding application process and funding partnership with funding agencies were identified, including resources, leadership, community need, networks, and relationship with the funding agency. Dimensions of tribal community capacity were then used to suggest potential capacity building strategies for improved funding partnership between tribal communities in Montana and funding agencies. Capacity building strategies such as strategic planning for organizational change by leadership and community-based organizations, increased opportunities for community member participation and inclusion in expressing needs and concerns, and a monthly meeting for community grant seekers to raise awareness about and prioritize funding opportunities were suggested for tribal communities, while strategies such as the provision of consistent technical assistance, a focus on relationship-building, and making available funding opportunities for the specific purpose of tribal community capacity in the funding application process are examples of changes for on the funding agency side. These strategies could be further developed in an attempt to build the capacity of tribal communities to secure more funding for local health promotion efforts.


© Copyright 2012 Maja R. Pedersen