History of the Tiwahe Foundation
The Tiwahe Foundation is a place for giving — and giving back — that benefits the well-being of American Indian people and communities in Minnesota. We are a community foundation of friends and supporters — Indian and non-Indian — who have resources, time and talents to share. Together, we all work to unleash more philanthropy and generosity that are not only held within every person but also embodied collectively.
We think of this as the Circle of Giving — a continuous cycle of success grounded in indigenous culture that recognizes that giving benefits both giver and receiver. The Tiwahe Foundation is a trusted community partner, connector and resource. Our core work involves:
- Investing in the needs of individuals relative to education, economic and community development, and tribal culture (through the American Indian Family Empowerment Program);
- Promoting Indian leadership development and leadership network formation;
- Building a permanent endowment for operations; and
- Practicing core values such as generosity, compassion, courage and resilience in operationalizing the Circle of Giving, so as to build a self-sustaining community.
The Foundation evolved from origins as a culturally responsive grantmaking initiative of three Minnesota family foundations known as the American Indian Family Empowerment Program (AIFEP). Launched in 1993 initially by the Marbrook Foundation, AIFEP was the inspiration of Markell Brooks. It operated as a donor-designated fund with monies from a collaborative of the Marbrook, Westcliff and Grotto Foundations. In 2009, AIFEP transformed into a new entity, the Tiwahe Foundation. While Tiwahe Foundation is an independent community foundation with its own board of directors, the original AIFEP remains part of the ongoing work.