Each year, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community disburses funds to various Arizona governments, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations as its way of giving back to its neighbors. When Proposition 202 was passed in 2002, gaming tribes in Arizona agreed to allocate a portion of their state-shared gaming revenues in the 12 Percent Grant Program. The money, distributed each year through grants, is used to support programs and enhance services benefiting the public, particularly in the areas of education, recreation and public safety.
Every tribe decides how to run its 12 Percent Grant program. Here in Salt River, a committee of six people is appointed by the SRPMIC Council. The committee meets throughout the year to review grant proposals and evaluate programs. The 12 Percent Grant Committee consists of SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., Vice-President Martin Harvier, Council Member Ricardo Leonard, Council Member Tom Largo, Blessing McAnlis-Vasquez and LaVella Deer. The Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs assists the committee with its efforts.
The process begins in January, when the committee invites potential recipients to submit an application for 12 percent funding. Then the committee reviews all interested organizations, and those that are chosen by the committee will submit an application. The committee will go to the Tribal Council for final approval at the end of the application process.
Representatives from this year’s SRPMIC 12 Percent recipient organizations attended a luncheon at Talking Stick Resort on November 10. Council Member Largo gave the invocation and thanked all the representatives for the work their organizations do, and he said he was glad to have them present.
The Community honored many organizations for their outstanding work throughout the state, such as improving lives, making a difference for children and conducting research to help find cures for diseases.
“This year the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, with the assistance of the 12 Percent Committee, funded 46 organizations and six cities and municipalities,” said Angela Salazar-Willeford, Intergovernmental Relations Project Manager of the office of Congressional and legislative affairs. “The organizations range from those serving the homeless and veterans’ issues to a range of other nonprofit organizations that the community is grateful to be able to help.”
Vice-President Harvier spoke about the Community and its members, explaining that the Community has a tradition of caring and sharing that it has carried on for hundreds of years.
This year’s SRPMIC 12 Percent grants will help seniors, adults and youth by supporting organizations’ capital improvements as well as programs in healthcare, arts and culture, and the environment. In addition, funds will help the needy and the physically and emotionally challenged members of our society, and support every level of education.
“This year was a much larger gathering than in previous years. It is very difficult when the process takes place, but we are able to do this because of our tribal gaming,” said Harvier in his welcome address. Harvier welcomed everyone, and dignitaries who were present in the audience shared their appreciation toward the Community.
“It is great to be here, and on behalf of my congressional district that I represent, I want to extend my gratitude to the SRPMIC for its incredible generosity,” said U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona’s 9th congressional district. “We have an incredible group of honorees today who will be receiving grant funding from the tribe, and I am particularly excited about helping homeless veterans get back on their feet and back into our community. [Thanks to] Maricopa County, who is also helping veterans adjust in their homes after returning home from the service, and to the SRPMIC for its commitment. Your contribution to the community is felt statewide.”
U.S. Congressman David Schweikert from Arizona’s 6th district was also invited to the luncheon and recognized the Community for its efforts. “On the committee, you probably had some heart-breaking decision-making you had to work through when deciding, but you have done [an] amazing [job]. Think of all the things you are doing for the state; you are now a major economic player in the Southwest,” said Schweikert.
The event closed with a traditional song by Council Member Ricardo Leonard.