How a Grassroots Organization Grew to Support an Entire Community
Jul 19, 2012
In the early 1970s, four Native American men founded Native American Connections (NAC), an organization to assist a growing population of Native American men in Phoenix who as a result of leaving their reservations in pursuit of employment became homeless, often abused alcohol and other substances.
The founders, who were undergoing recovery treatment through the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, sought to provide a safe place for homeless Native America men to live while connecting them with recovery services and jobs. Their work began with a single service site and substance abuse recovery program incorporating Native American cultures and grew into a $9 million organization with 140 employees over the next 40 years.
For the past 15 years, Bank of America has supported NAC’s expansion throughout the Phoenix area.
“Bank of America was instrumental in our growth,” said Diana Devine, president and CEO of Native American Connections. “In 2007, we were recognized as a Neighborhood Builder and awarded an unrestricted grant of $200,000, which allowed our organization to start its expansion into what now includes 18 different service sites, including substance abuse recovery services, a homeless shelter, homeless transitional housing for youth, home-based youth services, HUD-supported housing and beautiful housing communities for low income individuals who want a stable housing environment.”
“Native American Connections does so much for the community,” said Kellie Manthe, market development manager for Bank of America. “After we awarded them with the Neighborhood Builder grant, they immediately moved to acquire a 100,000 square-foot office building so the Native American community could visit a single location that housed services and businesses addressing their needs.”
Bank of America and Native American Connections continue to develop their partnership, with Bank of America providing tens of millions in construction loans and tax credit investments toward the organization’s affordable housing projects, allowing Native American Connections to touch the lives of more than 5,000 families each year.
“Bank of America has been a great community partner for Native American Connections for the last 15 years,” said Diana Devine. “Thanks to Bank of America continuing to invest in our organization and vision, we can continue to serve the community and build our administrative and service infrastructure. We are recognized as one of the largest community developers in Phoenix, but the most important thing is that our work is making a positive impact on someone’s life each day."
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