Native FORGE

2023 Native FORGE Conference group photo

Applications for the 2024 Cohort are now open!



Program Overview


Our mission is to uplift Indigenous entrepreneurs and set a stage for grassroots entrepreneurial ecosystem growth within Tribal communities through tailored support, resources, and collaborative partnerships. Guided by principles of cultural responsiveness and equity, we strive to cultivate a thriving ecosystem that honors Indigenous heritage, promotes sustainable development, and champions economic self-determination.


Our vision is a future where Tribal economies are vibrant and inclusive, driven by the innovation and entrepreneurship of Indigenous peoples. Through the Native FORGE program, we aspire to be catalysts for positive change, creating pathways to prosperity that uphold Tribal sovereignty, preserve cultural identity, and inspire generations to come.

Partnerships & Funding

Native FORGE is a partnership among the University of Arizona Office of Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement (NAATE), FORGE (Finding Opportunities & Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs), and the Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office (NPTAO). The program is funded by a five-year, matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and was established in 2022 as the University of Arizona’s EDA University Center (UC).

The EDA UC program enables institutions of higher education to establish and operate UCs focused on leveraging university assets to build regional economic ecosystems that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship, resiliency, and inclusiveness.


How to Apply

Native FORGE serves one Tribe per year and is open to all federally recognized Tribes in Arizona. Successful applicants are selected based on the current state of the Tribal entrepreneurial ecosystem and the impact the program is likely to have in the lives of the nominated participants. The information presented in the application is used solely in assessing suitability for the program. It is, therefore, important that applicants provide thorough and thoughtful responses to each item.

Applications must be submitted by an individual with authority to apply on behalf of the Tribe. If you do not have this authority, please pass along the application details to your Tribal economic development office.

Applicants nominate five entrepreneurs from their community whom they wish to support using their own chosen criteria.

2024 Program Deadlines



For questions, please contact Aleshia Howell at




Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement logo, Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office logo, University of Arizona FORGE logo