The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget provides for strong investments in Native youth, especially in the area of education, which Native youth consistently highlight as a major priority during the Center for Native American Youth’s outreach and roundtable conversations in communities.
The 2016 budget includes a series of investments under the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, which President Obama launched to address barriers to success for Native American youth. The President’s budget includes a $1 billion investment to support a comprehensive transformation of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), within the Department of the Interior. The multi-year process aims to transform BIE into a capacity builder and service provider to support Indian tribes in educating their youth. The 2016 budget request supports that effort with a total $138 million increase. The Department of Education request provides $53 million for Native Youth Community Projects, an increase of $50 million to dramatically expand support for community-driven, comprehensive strategies to improve college and career-readiness among Native youth. In addition, there are proposed investments to:
- Make advanced higher education opportunities available through $41 million ($4.8 million above 2015) in scholarships and adult education;
- Provide training opportunities focused on natural resources management with $3.0 million to support approximately 60 new tribal youth projects;
- Work comprehensively with Native families with a $15 million increase for the Tiwahe Initiative; and
- Make it easier for Indian tribes to find and use the hundreds of services available across the Federal government through a $4.0 million investment to establish a One-Stop Tribal Support Center. This Center will include an online portal and services to support Tribes in accessing federal programs and resources at the regional and local levels, with an initial focus on programs serving Native American youth in support of the Generation Indigenous initiative.
The Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute has worked with thousands of youth over the last four years, creating a platform to elevate their priorities on a national level. We are excited to see that the courageous advocacy of youth led to meaningful increases in the federal programs that serve them.
As Vance Home Gun articulately said during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on January 28, 2015, “The priorities of Native youth are to support our communities and keep promises to provide services to Native Americans…adequate funding for programs that serve Native youth, especially: education, health care, language, culture, and child welfare programs.”
Although there is a long way to go, the President’s 2016 budget clearly prioritizes Native American children. This is an important and historic development.
Our leadership believes that treaties and trust responsibilities are not discretionary. It is time to demand that Congress and the Executive Branch direct sufficient mandatory funds to American Indian and Alaska Native nations so that they may have the resources to best serve their children.
The Center for Native American Youth formally partnered with The White House and US Department of the Interior to launch a new National Native Youth Network in support of the Generation Indigenous Initiative (Gen I). More announcements to come on this Network soon!
By: Erin Bailey, CNAY Executive Director