As COVID-19 spread rapidly in parts of the Navajo Nation and New Mexico pueblos, a groundswell of Sandia employees – including many Native Americans and members of Sandia’s American Indian Outreach Committee – were determined to send help quickly.
The grassroots effort initiated by Sandia’s workforce resulted in a labs-wide fundraising drive that collected $220,000 from 1,741 donors in just two weeks. National Technology & Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, which manages the labs, added a $25,000 match.
“What Sandia has done will make a big difference in providing direct support and needs in our American Indian communities,” said Laurence Brown, Sandia National Laboratories’ tribal government relations program manager. “COVID-19 has put Native Americans in New Mexico in a difficult situation.”
Native Americans have accounted for more than 55% of New Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases but account for less than 11% of the state’s population.
With a dedicated gathering of resources, the search was on for a nonprofit that focused specifically on tribal communities in New Mexico.
“Sandia’s American Indian Outreach Committee members were working diligently to locate a suitable nonprofit and identified the Native American Relief Fund as the conduit that would quickly deliver support to the 23 tribes and pueblos of New Mexico,” said Benjamin Mar, AIOC chairman.
The Native American Relief Fund was established by the New Mexico Foundation in collaboration with the Santa Fe Community Foundation to provide emergency grants to tribal communities and organizations. These grants are used to take food, water, baby food, diapers, toilet paper, hand soap, sanitizer and other essentials, as well as supporting long-term recovery efforts to some of the hardest-hit Native American families and communities impacted by COVID-19. Sandia had found its pipeline.