$5.3 million in grants awarded to help American Indian youth

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the award of more than $5.3 million in grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready.

Recipients of the grants include Osage County Interlocal Cooperative in Hominy; Little Axe, Bristow, Darlington, and El Reno School Districts; as well as Grand View School in Tahlequah.

Osage County Interlocal Cooperative was awarded this grant in consortium with nine rural local education agencies — Anderson, Bowring, Hominy, Osage Hills, Pawhuska, Shidler, Woodland, and Wynona in Osage County, and Frontier in Noble County — and two tribes (Osage Nation and Otoe-Missouria).

Project AAIMS’ (Advancing American Indians in Medical and STEM careers) Native Youth Community Project promotes college and career readiness of Indian children and will serve approximately 1,439 Pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade Indian students from 26 tribes. Through the partnerships with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science; Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance; Northern Oklahoma College; Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Osage County Extension Office; and, the Osage Nation Communities of Excellence, Indian students will have opportunities to participate in STEM activities and career preparation/exploration, especially in health professions.

Under the new Native Youth Community Projects program, the Department is making grants to a dozen recipients in nine states that will impact more than thirty tribes and involve more than 48 schools. These awards are a demonstration of President Obama’s strong commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children and a key element of his Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative to help Native American youth.

“These grants are an unprecedented investment in our Native youth, and a recognition that tribal communities are best positioned to drive solutions and lead change,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants are a down payment on President Obama’s commitment last summer at his historic trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to create new opportunities for our American Indian youth to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders.”

“These grants help provide important tools to unlock the doors to higher education and assist the next generation of Native American leaders in gaining valuable skills for today’s competitive workforce,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan in announcing the funding awards today and is responsible for the management of more than 180 Bureau of Indian Education Schools, three of which are recipients of these Native Youth Community Projects program grants. “They underscore the Obama Administration’s commitment to self-determination by putting tribal communities in the driver’s seat for a strong, prosperous future.”

Each grant will support a coordinated, focused approach chosen by a community partnership that includes a tribe, local schools, and other organizations. For example, the program allows tribes to identify culturally-appropriate, community-specific supports for college and career readiness — whether it’s early learning, language immersion or mental health services.

The President’s FY 2016 budget proposal calls for increased investments across Indian Country, including a total request of $20.8 billion for a range of federal programs that serve tribes — a $1.5 billion increase over the 2015-enacted level. The budget proposal includes $53 million for fiscal year 2016 — a $50 million increase from this year’s budget — to significantly expand the Native Youth Community Projects program.

For more on the Administration’s investment in Native American issues, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/nativeamericans.