This model seeks to increase the high school retention, graduation, and transition to postsecondary education of American Indian students." (University of Minnesota, 2009)
The project is a partnership including the following:
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC),
National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC),
Cloquet Public Schools,
the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School,
St. Paul Public Schools,
the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning,
Indian Education Division (CFL),
American Indian Parent Committees,
American Indian businesses and organizations, the Ando-Giikendaasowin Native American Math and Science Program at the General College at the University of Minnesota, and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES). (University of Minnesota, 2009)
As well the Parkways model is stated to be an evidence-based and strategically developed specifically for Native American Indian students in high school. A collaborative effort, this model was replicated on "eleven American Indian reservations and communities in Minnesota. As a result of these efforts approximately 30 American Indian youth are now pursuing their education in a postsecondary setting." (University of Minnesota, 2009) the objectives of the Pathways project is providing encouragement to students in gaining access to a postsecondary education through the rural and urban Fond du Lac Tribal Community college campuses.
This model is one that is stated to offer urban Native American Indian youth in the St. Paul metropolitan area and the rural American Indian youth that live on or near the Fond du Lac reservation located in northern Minnesota "...opportunities to prepare for higher education and high-skill, high-wage careers. Imbedded in the model are assessment opportunities for students to measure their growth/change in such areas as self-esteem, math/science efficacy, problem-solving; learning styles, and career interests." (University of Minnesota, 2009)
The components of the Pathways project are stated to include those as follows:
(1) Innovative programs designed to raise achievement and promote retention and graduation from high school;
(2) Comprehensive guidance, counseling, and testing services;
(3) Opportunities for students to enroll in courses at the postsecondary level;
(4) Partnerships between project high schools and local businesses to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to make an effective transition to career opportunities;
(5) Programs to encourage and assist American Indian students to work toward and gain entrance into postsecondary institutions; and (6) Evaluation of program effectiveness and disseminate program results locally, statewide, and nationally. (University of Minnesota, 2009 )
The work of Belgarde and Lore (2004) entitled: "The Retention/Intervention Study of Native American Undergraduates at the University of New Mexico" reports that student service programs "act as key resources to help students persist in school until graduation. However, some critics question whether service programs aimed at specific ethnic populations contribute sufficiently toward their persistence." Belgarde and Lore (2004) relate that Tinto (1975) held that the "...stronger one is integrated into the institution; the more likely he/she will graduate from college. Thus, Native students' use of Native and non-Native student service programs is likely to effect the strength of their integration." Belgarde and Lore state findings that the level of involvement of the student, the student's satisfaction of the services they receive is linked to the likelihood of the student graduating and the students using the services such as career placement.
The work entitled: "Tribal Programs Harness Cultural Strengths to Improve Conditions for Families and Youth" published in April 2006 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that headlines from the "Nation's Tribal communities can often be discouraging. As in many rural areas in the United States, opportunities for economic advancement on and near Tribal lands are harder to come by than in urban and suburban centers. Resulting poverty and joblessness can fuel a host of other problems, including poor health, substance abuse, and high rates of violence and incarceration." (Quotah and Chalmers, 2006) Because of this "...UNITY and a number of Tribal and non-Tribal organizations across the Nation are working with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and its Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), in a collaborative effort to build upon the strengths of Native youth and their families. As a result of their efforts, a number of innovative initiatives are being born throughout Tribal communities addressing the persistent problems that have hampered the positive development of Tribal youth." (Quotah and Chalmers, 2006)
Stated as some of the most promising of these are based on the following key components:
(1) Tribal problems are best addressed with Tribal solutions: With 562 Federally recognized Tribes in the United States, each with a different cultural and historical background, trying to create one-size-fits-all solutions, or introducing non-Tribal programs to Tribal audiences, is often not as effective as tailoring programs to meet specific Tribal needs. FYSB's Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, for example, has found that family violence shelters that are run on Tribal lands by Native American staff are better able to respond to the needs of the women and children from the local community (see article on page 10) than shelters in non-Tribal areas;
(2) Cultural pride and identity should be respected and promoted: While not all Native Americans feel strong ties to their cultures, many of the most promising Tribal initiatives have allowed youth to explore aspects of their heritage that emphasize strength and pride; and (3) Young people should be given opportunities for Positive Youth Development in a culturally and spiritually appropriate setting: Research continues to show that young people who have access to opportunities that allow them to build skills and demonstrate leadership are better able to make the transition to a healthy and productive adulthood. UNITY, for example, has a roster of more than 200 Tribal youth councils across 34 States that serve as the local organizers and leaders of two major initiatives:
(a) Celebrate Native Health is the just launched second stage of a program to encourage healthy lifestyles in Tribal communities.
During the first stage, Celebrate Fitness, Tribal youth councils across the country undertook such projects as building walking paths, organizing health fairs, and convincing Tribe members to relinquish their TV remote controls. Celebrate Native Health will focus on proper nutrition; and (b) Funded by the Administration for Native Americans within
ACF, Preparing Native Youth for Life's Journey is a series of training sessions aimed at providing life skills and leadership training to UNITY youth so that they can return to their communities with concrete tools to help them undertake development projects. So far, several hundred youth have attended the training sessions in four States. A written training guide is also being developed, a draft of which can be downloaded from www.unityinc.org." (Quotah and Chalmers, 2006)
Summary and Conclusion
From the reports reviewed in the present brief study it has been demonstrated that assistance to Native American Indian youth has progressed over the past several decades and that collaborative projects involving many actors and partners all contributing to the furtherance of the education and transition of Native American Indian youth has been that which has most greatly supported these advances.
Belgarde, Mary Jiron and Lore, Richard K. (2004) the Retention/Intervention Study of Native American Undergraduates at the University of New Mexico. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice. Vol. 5, No. 2, 2004. Online available at: http://baywood.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,7;journal,23,40;linkingpublicationresults,1:300319,1
Shafer, Michael S. And Rangasamy, R. (1995) Transition and Native American Youth: A follow-up Study of Schools Leavers on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Journal of Rehabilitation. Jan-Mar 1995. Online available at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0825/is_n1_v61/ai_16955923/
Pathways to Possibilities: Supporting the Transition of American Indian High School Youth. University of Minnesota. Transition Projects for American Indian Youth. Online available at: http://ici1.umn.edu/etc./projects/pathways.htm
Native Pathway to Adulthood: Training for Tribal and Non-Tribal Child Welfare Workers. Author: National Resource Center for Youth Services, University of Oklahoma. 2004. Available at www.nrcys.ou.edu.
The Path Before Me: Questions to Guide American Indian Youth Toward Responsible Living. Author: Kroner, M. 1997. Available from the National Resource Center for Youth Services, University of Oklahoma, www.nrcys.ou.edu.
Tribal Approaches to Transition. Author: Munsell, G. 2004. Available from the National Resource Center for Youth Services, University of Oklahoma, www.nrcys.ou.edu.
Quotah, Eman and Chalmers, Rebecca (2006) Tribal Programs Harness Cultural Strengths to Improve Conditions for Families and Youth. The EXCHANGE. News from FYSB and the Youth Services Field April 2006. U.S. DEPARTMENT of HEALTH and HUMAN SERVICES. Administration for Children and Families. Administration…