In order to expand its services to help Native American children succeed in school, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has established a high-level Native American Advisory Council.
The council, which will meet quarterly, met for the first time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in April. The group will support the organization and give advice on cultural matters as it expands to serve more Native American children.
“The Big Brothers Big Sisters Native American Advisory Council is extremely important as we support our affiliates in their work to provide one-to-one staff-supported mentoring services to more rural and urban Native American families and communities,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Director of Native American Mentoring, Ivy Wright-Bryan, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada. “Longstanding studies, complemented by our real-time Youth Outcomes Survey data, illustrate the effectiveness of these services in helping youth overcome adversity to succeed in school; avoid risky behaviors and have higher self-esteem and aspirations. To hold ourselves accountable for these outcomes, we need support from experts such as those who have agreed to serve on the Native American Advisory Council.”
Council Members Include:
- Margo Gray-Proctor, Osage, president, Horizon Engineering Service Company
- Ernest Stevens Jr., Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, chairman, National Indian Gaming Association
- Lucille Echo Hawk, Pawnee, former strategic adviser for Indian Child Welfare Programs, Casey Family programs, and founder of Native Americans in Philanthropy
- Andrea Maril Fisher, chief executive officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico
- Juana Majel-Dixon, Pauma, first vice-president, National Congress of American Indians
- Jared Ivins-Massey, White Mountain Apache, co-president, national U.N.I.T.Y. Council
- Josie Raphaelito, Navajo, program coordinator, Center for Native American Youth
- Quintin Lopez, Tohono O’odham, co-president, National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission
The Big Brothers Big Sisters Native American Tribal Community Initiative, established in 2008, serves more than 4,197 Native children, 42 percent of whom are matched with Native mentors. Local Big Brothers Big Sisters programs serve 25 tribal communities and 10 pueblos, where Native staff work with elders to match youth with mentors.
“Our program is already resulting in measurable positive outcomes, most notably improved attitudes toward antisocial behavior; stronger parental and peer relationships; better school attendance and scholastic competence; and higher educational expectations, social competencies and school attendance,” Wright-Bryan said in a release. “Ultimately these mentoring services will help improve overall wellness, including the avoidance of substance abuse and suicide.”