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Supporting Native Youth

Native youth today are facing unique challenges. While Boys & Girls Clubs of America has proudly partnered with Native communities and tribal leaders to serve American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian youth for over 20 years, we are ever striving to reach more Native youth on and off of reservations and to provide communities with assistance to help youth overcome any obstacles that they may face to living a healthy life.

Recently six staff members from BGCA headquarters in Atlanta traveled through Native lands around the country providing 16 Boys & Girls Clubs with training in nutrition education and in STEM programming. The six staff members, in turn, are using their newfound knowledge to train staff at Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) residential schools to leverage mobile devices to guide students through hands-on STEM projects as well as culturally relevant curriculums, visiting the BIE schools at least once a week. Ongoing support to implement these curriculums will result in an increased capacity for Boys & Girls Clubs to serve Native youth in the areas that are vital for any youth in order to grow into a healthy adult prepared for a great future.

As a result of the training provided to staff at these 16 Native Clubs on nutrition education programming more Native youth are now participating in BGCA's outcome-driven program Healthy Habits. Youth learn basic cooking techniques, how to shop for affordable healthy groceries, and how to utilize community resources like traditional foods to make healthy meals for themselves and their families. The focus on nutrition education and healthy habits empowers Clubs to equip Native youth with the skills and information they need to work around the obstacles and resource constraints, which in many needy communities, limit access youth and families’ access to fresh and nutrition food.

The three STEM programs that BGCA staff provided training on were: DIY STEM 2.0, My.Futures Essentials, and Stride Academy. DIY STEM 2.0 introduces youth to STEM careers by engaging them in the science of every day, including energy & fuel, engineering design, food chemistry, and robotics. My.Futures Essentials teaches foundational technology skills, while Stride Academy, engaging youth on multiple platforms with content customizable to the individual needs of any K-12 student, accelerates learning for Boys & Girls Club members during out of school time. All three programs use hands-on experiences to spur young people's interest and build their confidence. Our united goal is for ever Boys & Girls Club youth to engage with STEM-related disciplines from a young and to build a digital skill-set. In so doing Club members develop progressively better critical thinking skills and cultivate an ability to learn independently as they grow.

These are just the most recent examples of enhancements to our services for Native youth. Today BGCA is the largest nonprofit provider of services to Native youth with nearly 180 Clubs around the country reaching over 80,000 Native youth a year. While the overall U.S. high school graduation rate is a less than sterling 81 percent, for American Indian youth that rate is just 68 percent. In a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control found American Indian and Alaska Native populations to have a higher rate of type 2 diabetes than any other population group. For these reasons and more BGCA is committed to continuing expansion of its services to Native youth and communities. BGCA will continue to seek partnerships and expand our services to these communities until all Native youth have the opportunity to realize great futures.

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BGCA Native Services Unit
Dallas Service Center
2107 N. Collins Boulevard
Richardson, TX 75080

Direct: 972-581-2374
E-mail: BGCANS@BGCA.ORG