Thursday, December 11, 2014

President Obama's Call to Action to Support Native Youth

In his closing remarks at this year's White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 3rd, President Obama discussed how moved he and the First Lady were by their informal listening session with Lakota youths earlier this year:

And Michelle and I were honored that these young people opened up to us. But more importantly, we were moved because they were like Malia and Sasha -- just as smart, just as hopeful, just as beautiful. But at their core, there was a nagging doubt that they would have the opportunities that my daughters had. And nothing gets me more frustrated than when I hear that. Nothing gets me angrier than when I get a sense that our young people early in life are already feeling like opportunities are foreclosed to them -- because that's not who we are. 
So when Michelle and I got back to the White House after our visit to Standing Rock, I told my staff -- I brought Sally in, and I brought Arne Duncan in, and I brought whoever else was involved in youth and education and opportunity and job training, and I said, you will find new avenues of opportunity for our Native youth. You will make sure that this happens on my watch.

President Obama went on to address the steps his administration is taking. First was the release of the 2014 Native Youth Report (PDF). Second is the launch of the Generation Indigenous initiative, which includes:
  • New Native Youth Community Projects, administered by the Department of Education (ED) to provide funding in a select number of Native communities to support culturally relevant coordinated strategies designed to improve the college-and-career readiness of Native children and youth.
  • New National Tribal Youth Network program in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth. The Youth Network will support leadership development, provide peer support through an interactive online portal that links resources and tools, and empowers youth to become leaders within their communities. 
  • The White House, in cooperation with the Aspen Institute, will also host a high-level convening on challenges facing Native youth in February 2015.
  • The launch of the Cabinet Native Youth Listening Tour, which will begin next year as part of the President’s call to hear directly from Native youth on how to bolster federal policies to improve youth outcomes. In addition, the Administration will expand federal outreach on youth internships and employment opportunities across the federal agencies.
  • The first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering to engage hundreds of Native youth in a day-long conference in the summer of 2015.  
You can watch the President's speech here:

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