FACT SHEET: White House Tribal Youth Gathering
We want to give those young people and young Native Americans like them the support they deserve. We have to invest in them, and believe in them, and love them. And if we do, there’s no question of the great things they can achieve -- not just for their own families, but for their nation and for the United States.
— President Obama, White House Tribal Nations Conference, December 3, 2014
Tomorrow, the White House will host the inaugural Tribal Youth Gathering in collaboration with United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) and the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The Youth Gathering will bring together over 875 Native youth representing 230 tribes from 42 states to engage with the First Lady, Cabinet officials, the White House Council on Native American Affairs, and non-federal partners on key issues, including cultural protection and revitalization, education, health and wellness, climate change and natural resources, tribal justice, and economic opportunity.
The Youth Gathering builds on the President’s launch of Generation Indigenous (Gen-I), an initiative to help improve the lives of Native youth and to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. Gen-I includes new investments and policies to expand educational, employment, and health and social services for Native youth and also strengthens the Administration’s engagement with Native communities to improve outcomes for all youth. With a substantial proportion of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population under 24 years old—42 percent compared to 34 percent of the total population—and a significant percentage in the 15-19 age group, we have a critical opportunity to create a brighter future not only for youth in Indian Country, but for youth across the entire nation.
Since the launch of Gen-I, thousands of Native youth and organizations have accepted the Gen-I challenge by joining the Native Youth Network to give back in a positive way to their communities. Cabinet secretaries also answered the President’s call to tour Indian Country and engage with Native youth; and several more are planning trips by the end of the year. Together in partnership with the federal government, Gen-I is building a nationwide commitment to ensure that our Native youth have the tools they need to thrive.
In conjunction with the Youth Gathering, the Administration announced commitments to continue to support Native youth, including:
PREPARING NATIVE YOUTH FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
College and Career Ready Programs: The Department of the Interior (DOI) will issue $995,000 to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) that will be distributed to 20 tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to work with 45 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) funded feeder schools. AIHEC and selected TCUs will develop college and career ready programs for students attending these BIE-funded schools to ensure they graduate from high school and matriculate to college.
Supportive School Climate: This July, the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) will release the 2014 School Environment Listening Sessions report. The report is a culmination of conversations and recommendations from the fall school environment listening sessions conducted by WHIAIANE and the Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights that took place across the country with students, educators, and tribal members. The report will provide recommendations to schools and policy makers on how to address bullying, stereotypes, school discipline, and harmful imagery and symbolism to improve school environments for Native American students.
These listening sessions led to the Native Student Environment Initiative (NSEI), a new effort that works to improve the educational environments of Native students by addressing school environment concerns. NSEI encourages open conversations and listening sessions between community members, youth, tribal, state, and local officials to develop commitments and actions to improve school environments. In support of these efforts, WHIAIANE will develop a NSEI toolkit to provide technical assistance information for use by education decision-makers, Native youth, tribal communities, parents and families.
Grants for Tribal Education Departments: DOI will award seven tribal applicants a total of $1.45 million in new funding that BIE received from Congress under Section 2020 of the Tribally Controlled Schools Act. The funding will be awarded to 7 tribal nations to build the capacity of their tribal education departments that work with or oversee BIE-funded schools.
BIE Progress Report: DOI will release a report that discusses the progress on efforts to provide a high-quality, culturally relevant education to students in BIE funded schools. One year ago, DOI published the BIE Blueprint for Reform, a series of recommendations on transforming the BIE, which included putting control and management of schools back into the hands of tribes. This Report discusses DOI outreach to tribes and stakeholders regarding the recommendations contained in the Blueprint, the steps taken to implement the recommendations and the strides made toward improving the education of students in BIE funded schools.
One Stop Shop: DOI and the Department of Labor (DOL) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Benefits.gov to work to create a Native One Stop online tribal support center to assist tribal communities in accessing government programs and resources. The website will launch in July with basic information focused on resources for youth and will be further developed over the next year.
Preserving and Revitalizing Native Languages: In September 2015, ED, HHS’ Administration for Native Americans, and DOI-BIE will host a second Native Languages Summit to identify best practices in preserving and revitalizing Native languages. In November 2012, the agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement to collaborate on programming, resource development and policy initiatives across the government and hosted the first summit in June 2014, bringing together 300 participants from across the country. As a part of this work, BIE has developed a Native Language Policy Framework for BIE-funded schools.
Tribal Youth Energy Challenge Competition for Native high school students: DOI’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) will contract with an outside entity to conduct a student competition to design a creative solution to a real-world, energy-related problem affecting themselves or their communities. The top five proposals will be invited to build a scale model of their design and receive a small stipend for expenses.
Urban Tribal Environmental Program: For the first time this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 1 Office will partner with tribes located in New England to pilot a high school student summer learning experience for Native youth to shadow Native American environmental staff for eight weeks. Native youth will gain experience in field sampling and analysis, laboratory methods, and data interpretation.
Bringing Local Environmental Observers Program to Tribal Colleges: EPA will expand the Local Environmental Observers (LEO) network. LEO connects environmental experts with scientists at local universities to work alongside tribal elders to provide technical assistance. The LEO expansion will target tribal colleges and universities and engage hundreds of Native students in sharing observations about the impacts of climate change in their communities.
Native Youth Community Projects: First announced at the 2014 Tribal Nations Conference, the Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP) initiative is a new priority in ED’s Demonstration grant program that will fund culturally-relevant strategies designed to improve college-and-career readiness for children and youth in tribal communities. The Department held 9 technical assistance sessions that reached over 562 participants and resulted in over 70 applications submitted for funding consideration.
CREATING SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE NATIVE COMMUNITIES
Mentoring Services: DOJ’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will support the expansion of mentoring activities in Indian Country through the OJJDP’s 2015 Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative. Announcement of the grant awards is expected in September 2015.
Support the Development of Native Youth Leaders: DOJ-OJJDP will also host five regional events over the next two years under the “Today’s Native Leaders” National Tribal Youth Leadership Initiative, a collaborative effort between UNITY and OJJDP. The initiative provides support and nurtures the development of young Native leaders across Indian Country through interactive workshops.
Improve Service for Victims: In September 2015, DOJ’s Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) plans to make one award of up to $2 million to improve access to services for AI/AN victims of crime by cataloguing existing comprehensive services, including services available to AI/AN children, youth, and families. Through this project, OVC will support the creation of a user-friendly, state-of-the-art resource that enables victims to seek comprehensive services; support victim service providers in their efforts to expand their outreach on behalf of victims to ensure services provided reflect the myriad needs of AI/AN crime victims; and provide a clear picture of service gaps for private, federal, and state funders.
Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth Program: DOJ-OVC is funding two states (Montana and Virginia) to develop a unified approach to identify young victims—no matter the system they enter or access—assess the needs of children and their families, and then provide comprehensive services to ensure children and families can heal and grow stronger. This summer, Montana is holding listening sessions across the state and in seven tribal communities, including: Fork Peck Tribes, Fort Belknap Tribe, Chippewa Cree Tribe, Blackfeet Tribe, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Crow Nation, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
A Circle of Healing for Native Children Endangered by Drugs: DOJ-OVC recently released a seven-part video series and companion resource guide that provides examples of successful programs and practices used to help drug-endangered Native youth, families, and communities heal from trauma. In this video series Native youth, Tribal leaders, services providers, and adult survivors share testimonials and describe practices that inform and inspire tribal communities that are endeavoring to support and treat traumatized children.
SAMHSA Tribal Youth Leaders: HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will work with tribal youth leaders to develop a National Tribal Behavioral Health agenda on mental and substance use disorders and advance positive behavioral health action.
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES
Wind River Job Corps Opening: This summer, DOL will open the Wind River Job Corps center in Wyoming. The new center will have the capacity to train up to 300 students at a time, including in those jobs that are critical to the booming petroleum industry and employ over 100 individuals. Job Corps management is working with other Job Corps centers near or on tribal lands to learn more about how to best work with tribal nations and serve their Native American students.
AmeriCorps Grants: The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will announce more than $3.2 million in new AmeriCorps grants to federally recognized Indian tribes and tribal organizations to address a range of challenges, including tutoring and mentoring Native American youth, teaching nutrition and physical activity, preserving language and cultural heritage, protecting the environment, connecting veterans and their families to workforce resources, preparing for disasters, and tackling substance abuse issues. CNCS will award a total of 22 grants to tribal organizations to support 260 AmeriCorps members serving over the coming year, the largest number of grants and AmeriCorps members supported through tribal grants in the past decade. In addition, CNCS is making available more than $1 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for AmeriCorps members serving in these programs to help pay for college or to repay student loans.
21st Century Conservation Service Corps: As part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), DOI, CNCS, and five other agencies have partnered together to provide thousands of youth and veterans, including Native Americans youth, with work-based learning opportunities to do natural, cultural and historic restoration and preservation projects on public lands each year.
4-H Expansion: USDA will announce a proposed collaboration with the National 4-H Council for areas of persistent poverty, including Indian Reservations. The 4-H project is a youth outreach program sponsored by the Land-Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension Services, and USDA.
Terra Preta do Indio (Dark Earth of the Indians): USDA is announcing 7 fellows for the USDA Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship. The fellowship is designed to bring together tribal land-grant faculty and staff, USDA program staff, and others to address challenges in the development of a robust research resource to serve Indian Country and to further advance the United States’ food security.
Safeguarding Natural Heritage (SNH) Program: USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will provide financial assistance to three Land-Grant Colleges Universities to cohost a two-week summer enrichment program for students aged 14-17. The program will also expose students to postsecondary and USDA career opportunities.
Navajo Technical University’s Veterinary Technology Curriculum Enhancement: USDA’s APHIS is providing financial assistance to Navajo Technical University's Veterinary Technology Program. The funding will be utilized to enhance the current curriculum and expand opportunities for students enrolled in the program.
Pathways Internship Program: HHS’ Indian Health Service (IHS) will offer paid internships for youth to participate in IHS operated programs across the country. The internship will promote youth leadership and professional development, youth mentorship, youth economic support and improve college and health and science career readiness.
Indian Youth Steering Committees: HHS-IHS will establish Indian Youth Steering Committees to assist IHS Areas, Service Units and communities to maximize effectiveness and impact of youth programs and services.
Professional Development: The Small Business Association (SBA) will partner with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) to provide Native American youth with the coaching and curriculum necessary to ensure early career success. Native youth may also take part in MLT’s Ascend program, which provides coaching to incoming college students to ensure they have the skills, tools, and networks to maximize their college experience.
Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship: SBA will conduct several workshops throughout Indian Country geared to working with Native youth in the areas of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. These workshops will be in addition to the Native American Entrepreneurial Empowerment workshops the agency conducts throughout Indian Country annually.
Youth Hack-a-Thon: SBA is working with California’s American Indian Chamber of Commerce to hold a Native American Youth Hack-a-Thon in California in late July 2015. This event will feature Native American youth utilizing technology to tackle problems affecting their communities.
Indian Community Development Block Grant: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will publish its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for 2015. The NOFA will make approximately $59 million available for a wide variety of community development purposes, including group homes, community centers, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Indian Housing Block Grant: In Fiscal Year 2015, HUD allocated over $650 million to address overcrowding in low-to-middle-income housing and to also build and maintain safe houses, transitional housing, and group homes, among other matters. Reductions in overcrowded living conditions positively affect residents’ health and young people’s performance in school.
To learn more about the Administration’s efforts in Indian Country, please visit obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/nativeamericans
 National Congress of American Indians http://www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics