Achieving your Dream: Universities Offering Support to Native Students

As summer is winding down and preparations for the fall semester begins, high school students will begin to hear more about what options are available to them once high school is complete. Here are five universities that were featured on Indian Country Network Today that focus on helping Native youth in achieving their dream. These universities offer scholarships and sometimes free tuition for Native Student making access to college easier and more cost effective.

Humbolt State University

Have an interest in studying science? Humbolt State University’s Indian Natural Resources, Science,and Engineering Program (INRSEP) could be the perfect program. The university recruits and provides support services to Native youth who are interested in STEM related content.

University of Maine

The University of Maine offers free tuition for Native students who are residents or who establish residency in Maine after one year of living in state. A needs-based room and board grant program is also available.


Dreamstarter Program Makes Native Dreams into Realities

So many of the wonderful out of school time programs offered at Clubs are designed to increase self-esteem and help youth aspire to be the best they can be. In addition to the leaders among their peers and the caring, consistent staff at the Club who inspire them, youth benefit from seeing other Native youth make a difference in their communities.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth’s Dreamstarter Program is designed to recognize young leaders and provide them with grants to make their dreams for their community come true. With support from Olympic gold medalist Billy Mays, Dreamstarter identifies youth who are striving to make a difference, pairs them with a non-profit, and awards them the grant funding they need to get their project off the ground. While the application season for Year 2 is now closed, Running Strong will continue to provide ten $10,000 grants each year to community non-profits who will mentor a young Dreamstarter and work with them to implement a project inspired by the young person’s dream for her or his community.


Open eBooks: A Library of Opportunity for All Youth

It is well known that literacy is the foundation of all learning, but not every child has access to the books they need to build this foundation. If your Club is in need of free, open access to thousands of children’s books, look no further: First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced the Open eBooks initiative. Open eBooks has been made possible thanks to a partnership of library, publishing, and technology organizations working together to create this initiative.

Educators, librarians, and program leaders working with children and youth from families in need can sign up with First Book to receive free access to the Open eBooks app. Once you have signed up with First Book, you will have access to Open eBooks, as well as access to the First Book Marketplace for low-cost books and resources, and the First Book National Book Bank for free books.

First Book is a nonprofit organization that provides access to high quality, brand new books and educational resources - for free and at low cost - to schools and programs serving children in need.


Opportunity for Native Youth Artists

Literacy development is critical for children, just as it is important that young readers see themselves represented in the books and stories they read. Positively Publishing Kids is a multicultural publisher that works with young people to create books that are representative of a diverse population. They are currently looking for new youth artists to illustrate one of their next books.

Youth between the ages of 14 and 18 are eligible to apply as illustrators. The company’s priority is to provide opportunities to youth who are not typically represented in literature, including Native youth, who appear in less than 1% of children’s literature. Positively Publishing Kids’ first book, released in June 2015, was entirely illustrated by a teenager! Selected artists will receive an illustrator’s contract and royalties for each sold copy of the book they illustrated.

Submissions must include 3-5 illustrations sent via email. Submitted artwork may also be featured on the company’s website and social media pages, with the artist’s permission. For more information, visit the art submissions page and email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Zachary Camel Jr. Wins Spot on the University of Montana Basketball Team

Zachary Camel recently made a giant leap for Native Americans in basketball. After two seasons at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, the 20-year-old Flathead Tribal member earned a roster spot on the University of Montana team this fall. After a competitive tryout where he received encouragement from his father and college coach, Zack Camel Sr., Camel Jr. will join the number one team in the Big Sky Conference.

In an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, Zachary Camel Jr. shared that he believes that his story challenges the belief that Tribal colleges cannot lead to bigger opportunities, a perception that he sees in many Native peers. He believes that Tribal colleges can be an advantage for youth, especially for basketball players like him.

In the same article, his father and long-time basketball coach shared: “It’s a big deal for us because it shows a lot of these Indian kids there’s an opportunity: If you put in a lot of work and do the right stuff in school there’s a chance.”

Camel Jr. has not had an opportunity to play yet this season, but is traveling to most games and practicing full-time. He took advantage of his opportunity and hopes to one day show the University of Montana and other college programs that being optimistic about potential transfers from Tribal colleges can pay off. His advice to younger athletes is to “just never give up and keep pushing. That’s all I did.”

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

Direct: 972-581-2374