Support Bioneers to Continue to Do What’s Needed: COVID-19 Relief Funding in Indian Country

How Bioneers Has Been Supporting Indigenous Communities Hit Hardest by COVID-19

“She is over the moon grateful and said she deeply needed this help.
Tears of joy and gratitude on all sides.”

Ruby Gibson, friend of a COVID-19 Regranting Fund recipient.

How “Indigigiving” Started: Since our inception, Bioneers has been profoundly shaped and guided by the knowledge and worldviews of Indigenous peoples, for which we are unspeakably grateful. Over the past 30 years, our work with First Peoples has been foundational and central, growing into our Native-led Indigeneity Program co-directed by Cara Romero and Alexis Bunten. At the 2019 Bioneers conference, nearly 300 Indigenous people representing over 100 tribal backgrounds participated, including 51 presenters and 125 Native youth. For these kinds of reasons, we found ourselves in a unique position to help move resources effectively and directly to some of those most in need from COVID-19.

Nina Simons, Co-Founder, Bioneers: When COVID-19 began to ravage this country, I was painfully aware of how much the pandemic would harm our relatives in Indian Country, where basic resources like healthy food, water and quality medical care are often scarce, difficult to access and far away. A friend reached out to me with a simple question: she wished to support the protection of Indigenous elders, but wanted to be sure her contribution would reach those in need. She didn’t know where and how best to donate funds.

I knew that between me, Cara and Alexis, our Indigeneity program co-directors, we held so many relationships with trusted friends, culture-bearers, community care-givers and partners that we could together develop some good resources. Once we shared those, people began donating and we found ourselves in a unique position to help channel funds directly to those in need, and help to make a real difference. It’s buoyed my heart over these months to know that we’ve been able to provide some tangible support to ease many relatives’ lives through this difficult time.

This message of gratitude comes from 35 Diné families with a total of 102 individuals, parents, children and more. We all say a heartfelt A’he’hee/Ahex’hee/ Thank you!

Because of your generosity, we were able to purchase a refrigerator, a water barrel, cleaning supplies, produce, food and water for these families, Delivering these items to their homes was essential in keeping these families safe. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, kindness and sense of Love.

Thank you!!!

Sunny Dooley, Traditional Navajo Culture-bearer

Alexis Bunten, Co-Director, Bioneers Indigeneity Program: When COVID-19 reached North America, we knew that it would disproportionately impact People of Color, and especially Indigenous communities. Historically it has been this way, and ongoing structural inequalities ensure it. We rapidly organized to gather impact as it was happening so that we could help. You can learn more about our early response to COVID-19 in Indian Country and read the results of our survey here.

Since we began this endeavor we’ve been blessed to be able to regrant over $165,000. Most of our efforts have been focused on Tribal Nations in the Southwest, whose citizens are in such dire need. Other giving has focused on partners across Turtle Island, to Amazonia, and international Indigenous communities.

With gifts ranging from $599 to individuals and families to larger gifts to partner organizations, we’ve carefully vetted each recipient through personal contact or on the recommendation of trusted Bioneers partners. Our contributors have helped support the lives and health of hundreds of individuals, prioritizing elders, and children. We are deeply grateful for our donors’ understanding, generosity and fierce compassion during this challenging time.

While others may be giving in a similar and decolonized way, yours by far, is more substantive, direct, and impactful. So kudos to all the hard work you and your team have done — my giving would not have mattered as much otherwise!!!

Trea Yip

Cara Romero, Co-Director, Bioneers Indigeneity Program: Our efforts have been profound, effective and heartfelt. Together our experienced and well-networked team is able to quickly identify multiple ways to address lesser-known unmet needs in Indigenous communities facing the devastating effects of COVID-19. These needs are unique, and we have focused on making sure funds and resources are strategically reaching marginalized pockets within the hardest hit regions. We have partnered with friends, organizations and volunteers to place trust and funds with accomplices that have intimate knowledge of urgent needs during this difficult time. From food banks to gas money to groceries to childrens’ books, we have seen our funders’ resources leveraged in meaningful and powerful ways. We know that these funds have made an impact on health and safety, as well as on peoples’ mental health and well-being. It is an honor to work as an extension of our funders’ generosity and transform their philanthropy into justice and caring.

What Bioneers’ Indigi-giving Has Accomplished So Far

We are so very grateful to have been able to regrant funds for COVID-relief Indigenous communities across 4 continents, representing over 25 tribes. We’ve sent direct relief to nearly 100 families, as well as indirect support through partner organizations to hundreds in the US and internationally. The recipients have directly received food, medical supplies, gas money, masks, personal care, heirloom seeds and garden starter packs with a focus on caring for elders and the most vulnerable. We’ve heard so many stories about how our support has helped families to obtain water, keep the lights on, stay warm, eat, and access vital information through technology.

While Indigi-giving has made a life-saving impact for many across the US and worldwide, we’ve especially focused our efforts on our home bases in the Southwest and in California, places that were hit soonest and hardest by the pandemic. We do this to honor the deep and long-lasting relationships we have made and relatives we have in the regions where Bioneers offices and staff are located. And, while we’re so grateful to have given to families and elders where we could, we’re deeply aware of the enormity of the need, ongoing – and would love to do more, or encourage you to give to one or more of the options below.

Take Action: Ways You Can Contribute


If you are reading this and feeling moved to contribute toward healing the ongoing harms and traumas of racial injustice, we invite you to consider the Indigenous relatives whose land you may live on now, and to explore how you can support tribal peoples in your bioregion at this life-and-death time. This could take the form of donating to a local tribal resource, and learning more about the people who have stewarded the land you live on, often since time immemorial. A list of trusted partners that Bioneers has been working with as part of this project is available below.


When this project began, Bioneers responded from the heart, working to do what we knew was needed, offering connections we felt could help.

Small Gifts:

While we wish we could request and regrant small gifts, the reality is that we are a very small staff with limited capacity and it is simply not feasible. To give small gifts directly in support of Indigenous COVID-19 relief, please see the list of partners below.

To contribute at any level to Bioneers whole-system mission to strengthen the leadership of First Peoples, women, youth and diverse leaders, and to shift our course to an Earth-honoring and just future, please click here.

Major Gifts:

We encourage you to consider making a major gift in support of all of Bioneers’ work, as we are struggling to do all we can in support of this movement-building pivotal moment. Bioneers is creating curricula, media and online resources to strengthen activism, organizing and citizen engagement for Indigenous peoples of all ages, women and other leaders who are diverse in every way, young people (and all people) organizing around climate justice, racial and gender equity and regenerative agriculture.

I also want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to the anonymous donor for this most generous gift. I hope that she will truly know and wholly take in that she has helped change many people’s lives through her humanitarian outreach, kindness and generosity, including mine.

from an Indigi-giving friend who helped Bioneers to direct support to the families who needed it most

We are also happy to discuss major gifts directly to Bioneers COVID-19 regranting project, “Indigi-giving.” in support of Indigenous communities as we navigate this unparalleled pandemic time together.

We welcome your partnership and investment, as someone who recognizes that now is when Bioneers’ approach to igniting and collecting diverse leadership while spreading visionary and practical solutions are especially needed and potent. Never have we seen a time when people’s minds are more open to innovation and hungry for new visions for reinventing how we live on Earth and with each other.

To learn more about what Bioneers is doing, and explore the possibility of a major gift, please reach out directly to our co-founder, Nina Simons.


To give in support of Indigenous peoples relief through the COVID-19 pandemic, these are other resources that we trust, know well and feel great about supporting

Navajo Reservation: Rez Refuge

Amazon Region: Amazon Frontlines and Amazon Watch

Bay Area: Intertribal Friendship House

Northwest: NaAh Illahee Fund

Global: The Flicker Fund from Seventh Generation Fund and the Center for Sacred Studies – Global

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