During his June visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota, the President re-emphasized the Administration’s focus on strengthening Native American communities through education and economic development. Thus, as part of the Obama administration’s commitment to create lasting change in Indian Country, we are pleased to announce $3 million in AmeriCorps grants to support Native American communities.
These funds will bolster President Obama’s priorities for tribal communities and increase the number of AmeriCorps members serving these communities by 41 percent. AmeriCorps members serving in these programs – most of whom will be recruited from Indian Country – will be eligible to earn $1 million in education scholarships to help pay for college or repay their student loans -- putting them on track for greater economic opportunity in the future.
Through these 17 tribal grants – the highest number approved in the past decade – the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will support more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving with tribal organizations in 13 states. AmeriCorps members will serve side-by-side with tribal elders and local leaders. They will work to tackle key issues facing Native American communities:
- In the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, AmeriCorps members will provide workforce development services to veterans and their families while improving tribal lands and waterways.
- Choctaw Nation AmeriCorps members age 55 and older will mentor preschoolers and encourage daily use of the Tribe's native language, which is eroding with each passing generation.
- On the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, AmeriCorps members help young adults complete their high school education by preparing them for GED testing.
- In the Osage Nation, AmeriCorps members will coach at-risk youth about nutrition and physical activity as a means to combat obesity and disease.
- Other AmeriCorps members will help tribal communities prepare for disasters, preserve the environment, or tackle the persistent issue of substance abuse.
This historic investment stands as a concrete example of the Administration’s dedication to strengthening Native American communities and to expanding AmeriCorps to create more opportunities for Americans to serve.
Jodi Gillette is the Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council. Wendy Spencer is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.