Story last updated at 10/17/2012 - 1:57 pm
Sealaska Heritage Institute has received a federal grant to fund leadership academies in communities throughout Southeast Alaska.
The $825,660 grant from the Administration for Native Americans will allow SHI to operate leadership academies over three years for tribal students in high school. The program is designed to increase high school graduation rates while encouraging and preparing participants to pursue high education opportunities, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
SHI will hold two-week academies in Klukwan, Angoon, Klawock, and Juneau. Through the program, Native youth in urban areas will become more involved with cultural activities and Native youth in rural areas will gain life skills needed to go to college. They will also be mentored to complete high school and pursue post-secondary educational and training opportunities.
The participants also will form a Regional Leadership Youth Council to create, adopt and present to the Alaska State Legislature an action plan addressing the factors that prevent youth from completing high school and pursuing post-secondary educational opportunities.
The institute developed the program with input from 70 participants of a workshop sponsored by SHI in 2008. Those participants included language teachers, Elders and youth from across the region. The participants concluded that most small communities retain high levels of cultural traditions and community engagement while in urban communities, these resources are less plentiful, which leads to detachment in school and from the community.
Conversely, youth in rural communities don't possess the experience or resources necessary to prepare for attending college and/or vocational training in urban settings.
Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.