Years After Winning a Promising Innovations Grant, Red Feather Development Group Continues to Help Native American Elders Age in Place

In 2016, Kendal Charitable Funds awarded a $25,000 grant to Red Feather Development Group as part of the Promising Innovations Fund, which was created to positively impact the lives of older adults. This grant was provided to the Red Feather Development Group to fund a project to help Native American elders age in place. More than six years later, the program established by Red Feather through the grant continues to support older adults.

The Red Feather Development Group is an organization that partners with Indigenous communities to provide healthy homes to as many members as possible. Systemic generational poverty and employment challenges are linked to the poor housing conditions faced by a disproportionate percent of Native Americans, and relatedly, the health disparities found in Native American communities. As Native Americans age, these factors can result in hazardous living conditions that put their health and safety at risk.

As an organization that exists to serve older adults, Kendal believes that older adults of all backgrounds deserve access to safe housing and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. The 2016 grant made it possible for older adults in Native American communities to remain in their homes on their respective reservations.

“With the funding support from Kendal, we were able to develop a culturally relevant aging in place home assessment packet that we use and have dispersed to others to walk through a house and identify specific aging in place hazards, as well as an interview process,” said Joe Seidenberg, Executive Director of Red Feather. “The interview process allows the homeowners to share what is important to them as a person, and helps Red Feather determine how to modify their homes to fit their specific needs.”

The results were immediately apparent, according to Red Feather Program Coordinator Kayla Miller. Kayla paid a home visit to an older Native American woman living in Tuba City, Arizona. While there, she noticed the woman’s toilet was extremely low to the ground, and her bathtub was not easily accessible, making small tasks extraordinarily difficult for her. Kayla went straight to work and within a few days she installed a toilet riser as well as a bathtub handrail in the woman’s home.

“She called me a few days later and let me know how much of a difference it has made and that she was really, really grateful for the items she received,” said Kayla.

Tribal communities only receive 0.4% of philanthropic dollars even though they make up 2% of the United States population, making it all the more important to raise awareness and offer support to these communities.

“Grant funding is so vital not only to our organization as a whole, but also to each individual program,” said Kiera Coughlan, Fund Development Manager for Red Feather. “It is grants that allow us to be nimble and to continually develop programs that actually meet the needs of the individuals and communities we serve.” To learn more about the Red Feather Development Group and the work they do to help older Native Americans safely age in place with dignity, visit and Red Feather’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.