President Obama with children at Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Putting Money Where Mouth Is
WASHINGTON — In advance of next week’s February 2nd release of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget, the White House on Thursday announced the Obama administration will seek $1 billion for American Indian and Alaska Native education.
This announcement came during a press conference conducted by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Assistant Secretary of the Interior- Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn and Jodi Gillette, the White House’s Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs.
President Obama’s June 2014 visit to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation where he met with a group of Native youth was mentioned several times during the press conference as the impetus for the $1 billion ask. After President Obama’s visit to Standing Rock, he directed the White House Council on Native American Affairs to place high emphasis on improving the Native youth lives.
The $1billion request was greeted with enthusiasm by Congressman Tom Cole (Oklahoma – 4th District), who is a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. He released the following statement on Thursday:
“Throughout President Obama’s tenure, Native American issues have proven to be a source of bipartisan cooperation, particularly on the House Appropriations Committee. As a proud Native American, I appreciate the president’s proposal to make significant new investments in tribal education and do so in ways that enhance tribal governments. In the days ahead, as my colleagues in the House and Senate seek to find common ground with the Administration, I remain hopeful that we can make significant progress in Indian country during this session of Congress.”
Below are the key components of the $1billion request:
Creating Opportunities for Native Youth through the Generation Indigenous Initiative.
The 2016 budget includes key investments to launch Generation Indigenous, an initiative addressing barriers to success for Native American youth. The Interior budget request includes a landmark Indian education transformation effort (see below) and the Department of Education request provides $53 million for Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP), an increase of $50 million to dramatically expand support for these community-driven, comprehensive strategies to improve college and career-readiness among Native youth. In addition, there are new DOI investments to:
- Make advanced higher education opportunities available through $41 million ($4.8 million above 2015) in scholarships and adult education;
- Provide training opportunities focused on natural resources management with $3.0 million to support approximately 60 new tribal youth projects;
- Work comprehensively with Native families with a $15 million increase for the Tiwahe Initiative; and
- Make it easier for Tribes to find and use the hundreds of services available across the Federal government through a $4.0 million investment to establish a One-Stop Tribal Support Center. This Center will include an online portal and services to support Tribes in accessing Federal programs and resources at the regional and local levels, with an initial focus on programs serving Native American youth in support of the Generation Indigenous initiative.
Transforming Indian Education
The Generation Indigenous initiative includes a $1 billion investment in Indian education to support a comprehensive transformation of the Bureau of Indian Education. This multi-year process will transform the BIE into an organization that serves as a capacity builder and service provider to support Tribes in educating their youth and deliver a world-class and culturally appropriate education across Indian Country. The 2016 budget request supports the reform with a $138 million increase to:
- Provide $58.7 million to initiate a multi-year BIE school repair and replacement plan;
- Deliver broadband access to all BIE schools over three years with an initial investment of $34.2 million;
- Boost operations and maintenance funding for Indian school facilities to $125 million, a $20.0 million increase;
- Encourage self-determination in education by providing $75 million, an increase of $12.9 million, to fully fund tribal costs of delivering their own education programs;
- Provide a $10 million increase to incentivize creative solutions to school transformation; and
- Invest $2.6 million in stronger school administration.