Hope Is Not Lost For These Native American Students In Need Of An Education

Posted by GreaterGoodness

Arizona is home to more than 60,000 school-aged Native American children. Many of these children live on remote reservations without adequate access to the educational resources they need to succeed in school. However, exceptional programs do exist to help these children achieve their full academic potential.

The Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona is a vast and often desolate land where many residents lack running water and electricity. Alcoholism and domestic violence are far too common. This is where local community hero Etta Shirley runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Family and Child Education (FACE) program.

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via Flickr

Twenty-three FACE program sites were in operation on the Navajo Reservation as of 2014. FACE is a proven, evidence-based program that involves four components: early childhood education, adult/parent education, home-based training, and parent-as-teacher training at a center. FACE helps parents understand their role as their child’s first and most important teacher. The program creates a support network where parents can help each other find solutions to difficult parenting and educational challenges. Children who participate in FACE have better educational outcomes, including higher attendance and graduation rates, than their peers who do not.

“While circumstances on Arizona’s Native American reservations remain challenging, the FACE and NAAF programs demonstrate that positive change can happen in the lives of children.”

Another success story can be found on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in southern Arizona near the Mexican border. In this high-poverty, remote area of the state, high school dropout rates are as high as 51%. The Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF) has stepped up to the challenge of helping these at-risk Native American youths. The NAAF has established an after-school program, a GED program, a Virtual Learning Center to educate young mothers who would otherwise have to drop out of school, and a summer program designed to keep kids off the streets. Together, these four programs are reducing the dropout rate, raising the GPAs of participating students, and helping those who previously dropped out to get their GED.

While circumstances on Arizona’s Native American reservations remain challenging, the FACE and NAAF programs demonstrate that positive change can happen in the lives of children. These children are an important part of our future. Get involved in shaping their lives by contributing financially to worthy programs so that they may grow, or by volunteering your time to mentor and teach a child.


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