TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation’s First Steps to Hope program, a pilot program, is still accepting applications for those eligible for the monthly $400 economic support payment.
The First Steps to Hope program, which launched in June of this year, was created to build up Cherokee families financially and reduce barriers related to poverty. This program, open for eligible Cherokee Nation citizens who are pregnant as well as participants in the tribe’s WIC program, was created as a function of the tribe’s Upward Mobility Task Force. This program is funded by the tribe’s ARPA dollars, part of the Cherokee Nation Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan.
Hundreds of applications have already been accepted.
“As the economy across the Cherokee Nation continues to shift, we are reminded that there are families who qualify for such important programs like WIC, who could benefit from a little extra help in the area of financial stability and food security. Our hope for this program is to reach out and touch a group of families who, for myriad reasons, could benefit from a little extra love and attention and a little extra financial stability,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The issues surrounding so many of our families right now are complex and often surrounding access to education, food insecurities, Native health disparities, employment and so much more. This program is just one of the ways we hope to meet our Cherokee families where they are and learn about how we can best serve our citizens.”
Eligible WIC participants will electronically receive a monthly $400 economic support payment for up to 18 months or until the child turns one year of age.
“The well-being of our Cherokee families is a top priority for Cherokee Nation and this pilot program will benefit so many of our Cherokee citizens,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “I’m proud of the team that came together to build this program for our citizens and I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact of this pilot program continue to unfold for Cherokee families across the Cherokee Nation Reservation, even after the program comes to an end.”
Eligibility requirements for First Steps to Hope program include:
- Must be a registered Cherokee Nation citizen;
- Must currently be enrolled in the Cherokee Nation WIC program as a pregnant participant;
- Live within the Cherokee Nation Reservation;
- Must have an active bank account; payments to CashApp and Push-to-Card services are not allowed.
This is an unrestricted economic support payment and will not affect current WIC benefits.
To apply for the program, log in to the Gadugi Portal, click on the applications button and then select the First Steps to Hope application. The portal can be accessed at https://gadugiportal.cherokee.org.
Those who apply should receive an email confirmation regarding the status of their application within approximately 14 days of applying.
“This program illustrates Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner’s commitment to ensuring Cherokee children born to low-resource mothers are given the best ‘first steps’ to life,” Commerce Executive Director Anna Knight said. “This pilot program is intended to alleviate some of those barriers and works hand-in-hand with the Cherokee Nation WIC program to encourage low-resource pregnant women to participate in WIC during pregnancy and during their newborn’s first year of life. This program combines financial assistance, case management and resource education with WIC to reduce financial stress in the household during the infant’s first year of life, improve healthy birthrates, improve the growth of nutritionally at-risk infants and strengthen mother and infant connections to preventative health care.”
For more information on the First Steps to Hope program, contact NyeKeisha Marshall at 918-207-4946 or Brooklyn Colburn at 918-453-5701 or by email at
To learn more about Cherokee Nation WIC, please visit https://www.cherokeepublichealth.org/tiles/index/display?alias=WIC