Leading the Way, Our Future Warriors- My Brother’s Keeper


Deputy Secretary of ED Jim Shelton and Executive Director of WHIAIANE William Mendoza meet with boys and young men from CLOSE UP’s American Indian Youth Summit.

On March 21, 2014 the U.S. Department of Education released the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).  The CRDC is a vital resource that provides the public with the opportunity to search how our nation and individual states, districts, and schools serve all students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.  This marks the first time since 2000 that the Department collected data from every public school in the nation.

The troubling disparities that the data revealed should remind us of the importance of ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunities. For example:

  • Fewer than 50% of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school.
  • Nationwide, 1 in 5 high schools lacks a school counselor.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native students represent 1% of student enrollment but account for 3% of the referrals to law enforcement and 2% of school related arrests.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native males represent 13% of out-of-school suspensions in the United States.

The data proves it: Boys and young men of color — regardless of where they come from — are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years, through college, to the early stages of their professional lives. While the Administration has made consistent progress on important goals like reducing high school dropout rates and lowering unemployment, persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain for many boys and young men of color.

In order to address the persistent gaps, the President established the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative which is an interagency effort to address the persistent opportunity gaps and measurably improve the expected educational and life outcomes faced by boys and young men of color. The Initiative will help determine which public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State, Tribal and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.

To better assist the function and mission of the task force, the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education will host a series of round table discussions throughout Indian Country. The round tables will bring young American Indian and Alaska Native boys and men together to talk about issues they are facing, possible solutions and to hear stories that demonstrate how they are creating and expanding ladders of opportunities.

The first of these round table discussions were held in Washington, D.C. on March 14th in collaboration with CLOSE UP’s American Indian Youth Summit, held in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indian’s Winter Executive session.  The young men who participated in the round table were from nine different Tribal nations.  Since 1989, Close Up has partnered with leading American Indian and Alaska Native organizations to connect with Tribes, schools and youth organizations throughout the country to engage and recruit Native youth and educators for their programs.

Jim Shelton, Deputy Secretary of Education and Executive director of the Task Force, and William Mendoza, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, met with the young men at the U.S. Department of Education. During the discussion these young men were able to share different issues they face and projects they are working on in their community.  Issues the young men touched upon included the importance of a strong supportive family, resisting drugs and alcohol, and suicide prevention.  The young men believed that addressing these issues would improve their educational environment and their academic performance.


William Mendoza, Executive Director of WHIAIANE with the round table participants.

For more information on the “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative and how to share your story visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper#section-how-president-obama-is-taking-action

More information on the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/data.html?src=rt/

Additional Resources:
The National Indian Education Study (NIES) is designed to describe the condition of education for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in the United States. The study provides educators, policymakers, and the public with information about the academic performance in reading and mathematics of AI/AN fourth- and eighth-graders as well as their exposure to Native American culture. Information on the study is available here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nies/

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Google+ Page

We’re now on Google+! We will soon be having NSEI hangouts and various other google hangout sessions for all of you to engage in.  Please visit our page at


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Our First Webinar!

Post Written by Sophie Newman

Washington, D.C- WHIAIANE is excited to start spreading the word about our new project, the Native Student Environment Initiative (NSEI). NSEI, created in response to testimonial gathered during WHIAIANE’s 2014 listening sessions tour, aims to address four main target areas for Native student concerns: imagery and symbolism, stereotypes, bullying and school discipline.

On July 8th, WHIAIANE, in collaboration with staff from the Technical Assistance Group at ED, hosted a webinar for the Comprehensive Centers and the Equity Assistance Centers to introduce NSEI. WHIAIANE heard insights from participants regarding outreach, engagement and execution of NSEI and learned about current and historic efforts in place to address Native student environment issues.

WHIAIANE looks forward to continuing this conversation about NSEI with upcoming webinars open to the public, which will introduce resources like the 2014 Listening Sessions Report and toolkits targeted towards youth and NSEI’s four main initiatives.

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