Native American Community Academy

Native American Community Academy, NACA Inspired Schools Network, One Generation, and The Grant Plant make a vision for better education for Native American children became a reality thanks to a long and fruitful partnership.
  •  12+ years as partners
  •  194+ grants written
  •  $31,375,709+ awarded
  •  ROI: For every $1 paid to TGP, awarded from $52-$151 in grant funds
  •  64% success rate
Kara Bobroff, a member of the Navajo Nation and Lakota, had a vision. She wanted to create a new community-led school for Native American students that would promote academic excellence and relevance by focusing on their identity through culture, community, and core values. 

 With her vision, boundless energy, and background in education, health and wellness, and connection to community, Kara started the Native American Community Academy (NACA) in 2006. The tuition-free, public charter K-12 school in Albuquerque, New Mexico serves more than 450 Native American students from 37 different tribes.

Kara and a small start-up team expanded on that success in 2014 by launching the NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) to help Indigenous leaders start schools based on the NACA model. NISN now supports school development in six states—and counting —around the country.

She’s applying her vision, previous successes, and learning to impact positive outcomes for students and communities as part of the One Gen Fund. The fund identifies promising, early-stage innovations that create sustainable solutions for Indigenous communities.

In NACA’s early days, Bobroff found herself doing everything — running the school; working with students, families and staff; and writing grants to gather funding to expand. Colleagues recognized that she needed support and referred her to The Grant Plant. It was the start of a long, successful, and uncommonly close partnership. “They’re one of very few who can work in a way that’s supportive, directive, and at the level of excellence that it needs to be to create something that has never existed before for our students, families and community,” says Kara. In total, TGP has helped her raise more than $30 million in funding. 

“I couldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved without The Grant Plant.”
Kara Bobroff
Founder of NACA and NISN, Emerita Board Member
Executive Director and Founder of One Gen Fund

TGP began with grant writing and finding new funding opportunities that matched NACA’s mission. Next, they helped write a federal grant to fund a capital campaign. Eventually, the partnership established an annual cycle where TGP would analyze grant opportunities, map them out, track when reports were due, and then give Kara a calendar with all her due dates plotted on it. Kara provided the annual direction and organizational priorities and TGP worked to support them and new mission aligned opportunities as identified by Kara.

That level of organization and support was critical as NACA grew quickly from having a dozen funding sources to almost 60. “They’re so helpful in aligning the work and keeping me up to speed on how and when things are due,” Kara explains. “That’s especially useful for founders and executive directors like me who don’t have the time to follow those details.” 

As NACA was invited to apply for other funding opportunities including federal and state grants, TGP analyzed if each was the right match and where the grant would fit within the organization’s mission. “One of their major strengths is they have a good understanding of grantees and the landscape of philanthropic partners in New Mexico and around the nation,” comments Kara.  

TGP was also at the table as Kara and her team started NISN, assisting with strategic planning, research, and connecting the network with funders. “They bring good energy to their work, they listen, and they’re thought partners, too,” she says. With TGP’s guidance, the network’s funding grew from $2 million to $6 million annually.  

Beyond the work, Kara says TGP demonstrates an uncommon level of caring. “They celebrate our successes, show up for annual events like feast days and graduations, and during the pandemic they checked in on our families and students, particularly those on the Navajo Nation.”

“I don’t know how they do it, but I wish everyone in government and philanthropy could operate like The Grant Plant – with excellence and heart.”