CSBG DCL Tribal Youth Empowerment FY2016

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
Division of State Assistance
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447


Community Services Block Grant
Dear Colleague Letter

Re: Tribal Youth Empowerment FY2016

Date: November 24, 2015

Dear Colleague,

In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, and in celebration of the next generation of tribal leaders, we, in the Office of Community Services (OCS), are writing today to ask for your partnership in helping create more opportunities for Native youth engagement, empowerment, education and employment.

As a recent White House Report notes, Native youth have a special role as citizens of tribal nations in defining the future of this country, and also in leading Native cultures, traditions, and governments into the next century.  However, they experience significant institutional and intergenerational challenges in reaching their potential.  Native children are far more likely than their non-Native peers to grow up in poverty, to suffer from severe health problems, and to face obstacles to educational opportunity.  These conditions are systemic and severe, and must be addressed through increased resources and strategic action.

Obama Administration Commitments

In July 2015, the President and Mrs. Obama hosted the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering with more than 1,000 young leaders from 230 tribes.  Those in attendance are also a part of the National Native Youth Network Visit disclaimer page , which aims to create a platform to integrate Native youth voices into the national dialogue. 

In conjunction with the Youth Gathering, the Administration made specific commitments Visit disclaimer page in the following areas:

  • Preparing Native youth for higher education;
  • Creating safe and supportive Native communities; and
  • Expanding economic opportunities.

As background, it was in December 2014 that President Obama launched the Generation Indigenous Initiative.  Through new investments and increased engagement, this initiative takes a comprehensive, culturally-appropriate approach to ensure all young Native people can reach their full potential.

What you can do
You can take several important steps to help foster a bright future for Native youth:

-        Join the National Native Youth Network by signing up at the following link:  http://genindigenous.com/network/ Visit disclaimer page ;

-        Share information from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center Visit disclaimer page ;

-        Refer youth and their families to the newly-created Native One-Stop Portal Visit disclaimer page ;

-        Submit Native youth “stories of inspiration” to your Office of Community Services program specialist and/or to the Center for Native American Youth Visit disclaimer page ; and/or

-        Review and share the Generation Indigenous Toolkit Visit disclaimer page for additional ideas.

Community Services Block Grant
In FY 2015, several CSBG Tribal grantees included specific suicide prevention activities in their CSBG Tribal Plans.  As grantees assess community needs and develop future CSBG Tribal Plans, please be aware that CSBG funding may be used to support youth suicide prevention activities and programs.  CSBG funding may be used “to address the needs of youth in low-income communities through youth development programs that support the primary role of the family, give priority to the prevention of youth problems and crime, and promote increased community coordination and collaboration in meeting the needs of youth.”  (Public Law 105-285, SEC. 676(b)(1)(B))

Let’s heed the President’s words from a recent visit to Choctaw Nation:

“We’ve got a special obligation to make sure that tribal youth have every opportunity to achieve their potential not just for the benefit of themselves and their communities, but for our entire nation.”

Thank you,

Jeannie L. Chaffin                                                                             Seth Hassett
Director                                                                                             Director, Division of State Assistance
Office of Community Services                                                           Office of Community Services

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