The U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of an estimated $3 million in grants to help Native American youth become college- and career-ready. Funding for the new Native Youth Community Projects is a key step toward implementing President Obama’s commitment to improving the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The new grants will support the President’s Generation Indigenous “Gen I” Initiative launched last year to help Native American youth.

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

In a Federal Register notice, the Department said it would award five to seven demonstration grants ranging from $400,000 to $600,000 to tribal communities before Sept. 30. The new program is based on significant consultation with tribal communities and recognizes that these communities are best-positioned to:

  • Identify key barriers to improving educational and life outcomes for Native youth, and
  • Develop and implement locally produced strategies designed to address those barriers.

Each grant will support a coordinated, focused approach chosen by a community partnership that includes a tribe, local schools and other optional service providers or organizations. For example, the program allows tribes to identify ways to achieve college and career readiness specific to their own communities – whether it’s early learning, language immersion or mental health services. Communities can tailor actions to address one or more of those issues. The success of these first projects will guide the work of future practices that improve the educational opportunities and achievement of preschool, elementary and secondary Indian students.

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 – 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.

Chief Leschi Schools -The school is funded primarily by the federal Bureau of Indian Education and also receives some funding from Washington state. It is one of the largest BIE schools in the nation. The current campus opened in 1996. Chief Leschi focuses on serving the educational needs of all Native Americans. Students come from nearly 60 tribes. The school is designed to honor Puyallup culture, from the staircase rails that resemble fishing nets to the hallways that replicate a longhouse design. Students study the Puyallup language, Twulshootseed, and have opportunities to participate in dance, drumming and other cultural activities.

Amy Eveskcige followed a winding road home.

As a rebellious teen growing up in Tacoma, she dropped out of school and landed in foster care. But she credits a rediscovery of her Puyallup Indian heritage and support from family and tribe for pulling her back from what could have been a disastrous path.

Today, armed with a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Washington State University, she is preparing to take the reins as superintendent at Chief Leschi Schools, operated by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. She will be the first Puyallup tribal member to head the school, which educates nearly 1,000 students from preschool to high school.

“I truly could not have done it without the support of my community,” Eveskcige said. In her culture, she added, “the honor of one is the honor of all.”

Eveskcige, who moves to her new post full-time on June 1, is currently an administrator in Tacoma Public Schools, where she has led staff recruitment and worked on implementing a new teacher evaluation system.

She has broad experience in South Sound education circles, having held leadership positions in the Vashon Island, Puyallup and Tacoma school districts. She was also an administrator of the Muckleshoot Tribal School in Auburn and previously worked as a secretary, teacher and elementary principal at Chief Leschi.

As Eveskcige prepared to begin her new work, she talked with The News Tribune about her personal and career path.

To read the her full interview, click here.

The Office of Indian Education is soliciting highly qualified individuals to assist in the review process for two discretionary grant competitions for 2015. This includes:

  • State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program—electronic review last two weeks of June, 2015
  • Native Youth Community Partnership (NYCP)—electronic review tentatively the last two weeks of July or early August, 2015

Both programs are administered under Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended. The discretionary grant review information will be posted here when the schedule is finalized. Please submit your resume to John Cheek, Discretionary Program Team Leader at John.Cheek@ed.gov. Please submit a resume by April 30, 2015, and include an email address.

The Office of Indian Education (OIE) Pre-application Webinar for the 2015 New Award Competition of State Tribal Education Partnership program (STEP) will be held on:

April 30, 2015, 2:00 to 4:00 pm EDT 

The webinar will provide important information to assist potential applicants to complete their submissions for the 2015 competition and address the same material. This webinar will be recorded and archived for a limited time. Presentation for the webinar and questions and answers generated from the webinar will be available to the public.

To Access the webinar please go to:  https://msg.adobeconnect.com/step/event/registration.html

Phone Number: 1-800-832-0736
Room Number:
6606540
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On April 16, 2015, the Department of Education published in the Federal Register a notice inviting applications for the 2015 State Tribal Education Partnerships (STEP) program. The new competition officially opened on Thursday, April 16, 2015 and will close on June 15, 2015. Notices of intent to apply must be received by May 21, 2015.

The purposes of this program are to: (1) Promote increased collaboration between tribal education agencies (TEAs) and the State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) that serve students from the affected tribes; and (2) build the capacity of TEAs to conduct certain administrative functions under certain Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) formula grant programs for eligible schools, as determined by the TEA, SEA, and LEA.

The Federal Register link to the official announcement is here:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-16/pdf/2015-08681.pdf

 For additional information on the STEP program please contact Shahla Ortega at Shahla.Ortega@Ed.Gov .

The Office of Indian Education may be found online at this link:  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oie/index.html

The purpose of the Demonstration Grants for Indian Children program is to provide financial assistance to projects that develop, test, and demonstrate the effectiveness of services and programs to improve the educational opportunities and achievement of preschool, elementary, and secondary Indian students.

TEDNA members will be please to find that preference priority is given to applications that are:

(a) Designed to serve a local community within a federally designated Promise Zone; or
(b) Submitted by a partnership or consortium in which the lead applicant or one of its partners has received a grant in the last four years under one or more of the following grant or enhancement programs:
(1) State Tribal Education Partnership (title VII, part A, subpart 3).
(2) Sovereignty in Indian Education Enhancements (Department of the Interior).
(3) Alaska Native Education Program (title VII, part C).
(4) Promise Neighborhoods.

Notice of Intent to Apply: The Assistant Secretary strongly encourages each potential applicant to notify of their intent to submit an application for funding. To do so, please email David.Emenheiser@ed.gov with the subject line “Intent to Apply,” and include the following information:

1. Applicant’s name, mailing address, and phone number;
2. Contact person’s name and email address;
3. A defined local geographical community to be served;
4. Name(s) of partnering LEA(s) or BIE-funded school(s);
5. Names of partnering tribe(s) or TEA(s); and
6. If appropriate, names of other partnering organizations.

Applicants that do not submit a notice of intent to apply may still apply for funding.

DEADLINE: June 29, 2015

For more information and the application packet, click here.

The BIE is responsible for providing quality education opportunities to Indian students. It currently oversees 185 schools, serving about 41,000 students on or near Indian reservations. Poor student outcomes raise questions about how well BIE is achieving its mission. In September 2013, GAO reported that BIE student performance has been consistently below that of Indian students in public schools.

This testimony discusses Indian Affairs’ management challenges in improving Indian education, including (1) its administration of schools, (2) staff capacity to address schools’ needs, and 3) accountability for managing school construction and monitoring school spending.

This testimony is based on GAO reports issued in September 2013 and November 2014, as well as GAO’s February 2015 testimony, which presents preliminary results from its ongoing review of BIE school facilities. A full report on school facilities will be issued later this year. GAO reviewed relevant laws and regulations; analyzed agency data; and conducted site visits to schools, which were selected based on their geographic diversity and other factors.

GAO has made several recommendations in its earlier reports; it is not making any new recommendations in this statement.

For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.

To view the highlights page, the testimony in PDF or to read further on the GAO’s website, click here.