Native American Television



Shakopee tribe, Walmart Foundation, and Kullman Family Follaborate to Fund Major Johns Hopkins Pilot Project in Native American Communities

October 16, 2017

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health will deliver and evaluate innovative nutrition, food access, and physical fitness program


Baltimore, Maryland – The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (CAIH) announced today a funding collaboration to support its Healthy Futures initiative, a comprehensive program designed to significantly improve health and nutrition in tribal communities.


The collaboration includes a $250,000 grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) through its Seeds of Native Health philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition; a $150,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation; and support from the Michael and Ellen Kullman family.


“We are grateful to the SMSC, the Walmart Foundation, and the Kullmans for their critical investment in building tribal communities’ capacity to improve health and well-being through improved nutrition, fitness, and education,” said Allison Barlow, PhD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins CAIH.


The Healthy Futures pilot project will combine three CAIH-designed programs (NativeVisionFeast for the Future, and Together on Diabetes), which individually promote nutrition, food access, and physical activity in Native communities, into a comprehensive effort. Healthy Futures will be implemented in two Southwestern tribal communities over a three-year period; rigorously evaluated; and, if proven to be successful, packaged for replication by other tribes across Indian Country.


“We hope that our funding partnership–combining tribal, corporate, and private family philanthropy–will inspire other funders to look at the critical needs and great grantmaking opportunities that exist in Indian Country,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has an incredible track record of effective, innovative work within tribal communities, and its Healthy Futures program is the perfect project for us to collaborate on.”


The program components include:

  1. School-based nutrition and healthy lifestyles education through activity-based, experiential curriculum taught by local teachers and Native health coaches.
  2. Family-based nutrition, meal planning, gardening, and physical activity education and promotion conducted through home visits by local Native family health coaches.
  3. Community-based events and activities–including gardening and harvesting education, fitness camps, and Elders’ teachings–that comprise a cultural assets-based approach to promoting healthy nutrition, fitness, and positive lifestyles.
  4. Rigorous evaluation to determine a solid evidence base for expanding the model to tribal communities across the country.


“Access to healthy, nutritious food plays an essential role in helping children reach their full potential,” said Karrie Denniston, director of Hunger and Nutrition for Walmart Giving. “We are pleased to continue our support of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to ensure American Indian children and teens have greater access to healthy food and learn how to grow and enjoy nourishing, culturally relevant foods.”


About the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Established in 1991 and based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center for American Indian Health works in partnership with tribes to raise their health status and health leadership to the highest possible level. The center’s innovative programs are now reaching over 100 tribal communities across the country, addressing critical issues such as obesity, suicide, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, early childhood development, educational attainment, and access to healthy food.


About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to Native American tribes and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County. More information is available at


About Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. Launched in 2015, the $10 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Better Way Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at