TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Public Safety Partners Program application, which provides up to $50,000 per grant to eligible public safety agencies, is available through Oct. 31.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner announced the program in May and committed to investing $13 million in grants to area first responders in an effort to further the joint mission of increased public safety.

“Protecting our communities and families is a responsibility that we share with nearly 300 municipal and county agencies,” said Chief Hoskin. “The Public Safety Partners Program grants will further strengthen our bonds with those agencies and ensure that those who are protecting us are also protected with the resources and tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

All eligible agencies were contacted by the Cherokee Nation via a letter and an email. County and local public safety agencies that apply can receive up to $50,000 per grant. The application process is two steps: agency representatives complete the application, and then sign a memorandum of understanding detailing the importance of the partnership.

To date, the Cherokee Nation has awarded more than 200 eligible agencies with more than $10 million in grants and is in the process of awarding $2.2 million in grants to applicants that are still being processed. 

Agencies that have not yet responded to the grant opportunity should soon receive a follow-up communication. Those interested in applying will have until the close of business on October 31 to complete the application.

“These partnerships allow us to do more and make the dollars go farther in our shared mission of protecting our communities,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “We are continually looking for ways to improve the lives of everyone living in, working in and visiting the Cherokee Nation Reservation. The safety of our communities is a responsibility we take seriously and working with our local partners, including providing these grant dollars, is a continued testament to that commitment.”

Partnerships under this grant have resulted in more access to training, equipment upgrades, new infrastructure and more.

Keys Fire Department Fire Chief Yogi Cole said that the recent grant has allowed the Keys Fire Department in Cherokee County to expand its current building.

“It has been a gift, and with our particular need, it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve been dreaming for years of expanding our building. We currently have only one room where we meet and there is no kitchen space or storage. With a bigger space, we will be able to hold meetings and events, add a kitchen for fundraising opportunities and accommodate for storage of tools and equipment. I don’t think our dream would be a reality without the Cherokee Nation,” Cole said.

Across the 7,000-square-mile Cherokee Nation Reservation, dozens of city and county agencies provide public safety services including county sheriff departments, municipal police departments, volunteer and municipal fire departments, Emergency Medical Services, emergency management services and emergency 911 services.

The Public Safety Partners Program is funded under Cherokee Nation’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild Plan, under the American Rescue Plan Act, and is designed to be a one-time boost of assistance for critical first responder agencies.