New Grant Program Will Give $3 Million To Native American Students

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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The U.S. Department of Education will make new grants available to Native American communities, totaling $3 million dollars as part of the Native Youth Community Projects program.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by the White House. The new grants are part of an initiative to help Native American youth become greater prepared for college and careers, the Huffington Post reorts.

There will be between five and seven grants distributed, ranging from $400,000 to $600,000, to tribal communities across the country. There will also be a proposed increase in investment in these areas in President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget.

The Native Youth Community Project is part of Generation Indigenous, an initiative announced in December 2014 by Obama to help improve the lives of Native youth.

For each community, the project will adjust to their specific needs and develop strategies.

"Each project will look different because each community is different,” Joy Silvern, deputy chief of staff for the Department of Education, said during the new grant program unveiling. "The initiative will allow people in the community to come together and … develop very specific strategies designed to improve college- and career-readiness."

The grants are expected to be awarded before the end of September, reports Education Week.

According to Silvern, the grants may support projects such as: Culturally responsive teaching, mental health services, or preschool programs.

For a tribe to receive a grant, they must partner with a school and identify community-specific challenges and potential solutions that will help Native youth become ready for college and careers.

“We know that tribes are in the best position to determine the needs and barriers that Native youth face,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The Native Youth Community Projects will allow tribal communities to come together to improve outcomes for students.”

The deadline for tribes to apply for a Native Youth Community Project grant is this summer.

According to a study conducted by a Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Study Group last year, the 183 schools in 23 states they oversee are among the lowest performing schools in the nation.

The White House released a report in December 2014 that concurred with BIE.

"Native youth and Native education are in a state of emergency. Low rates of educational attainment perpetuate a cycle of limited opportunity for higher education or economic success for American Indians and Alaska Natives," the White House report read. "This crisis has grave consequences for Native nations, who need an educated citizenry to lead their governments, develop reservation economies, contribute to the social well-being of Native communities, and sustain Indian cultures."

Sources: Education Week, Huffington Post 

Photo Source: Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service, azcentral.com