2019 Dreamstarter Joshua Smith is using his $10,000 Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter grant to create a coffee roasting company for the purpose of building tribal legacy, empowering his community and creating capital that can be used to lift others up.


In addition to producing Native American, socially conscious and delicious coffee, Joshua sees the mission of Ekowah Coffee as a business that focuses on giving back into the community by supporting existing nonprofit organizations.

“Our aim is to empower those nonprofits to continue and deepen their work with complete self-determination and without needing to spend a large portion of their budget on fundraising,” says Joshua. “As our capacity grows, we will expand our support to other organizations throughout Osage County, [Oklahoma] continuing to meet the financial need that exists within many of these organizations so that they can continue to benefit our community.”

Joshua explained that while his focus is on empowering nonprofits within his community, earlier this year Ekowah Coffee has had the opportunity to assist those in need directly, including contributing to assist a family in Osage County whose breadwinner had suffered a major stroke.

“This family was not only left without an income, but also needed to focus all of their attention on medical needs and recovery,” he reported. “In partnership with several other individuals, Ekowah Coffee was able to assist them with six months of utility bills and play part in covering a year of their mortgage.”

coffee package

Joshua says that entrepreneurship done ethically, and with giving back to one’s community at its heart, is an incredible tool for change within Native American communities everywhere.

“Not only can these new businesses create an income for a family and jobs within a community, but if entrepreneurial philanthropy is encouraged, these new businesses can also become the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations within that community.

“Thank you for seeing the potential in this area and for making the Dreamstarter entrepreneurship grant possible.”

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