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Dear Colleague Notice on Native Heritage Youth Empowerment

Published: November 25, 2015
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Dear Colleague Notices

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 the First Lady 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, 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 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:

Each year, OCS awards approximately $36 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to over 150 tribes and tribal organizations located in 25 states.  Additional LIHEAP funds may be awarded by the respective state based on where each tribe or tribal organization is located.  The purpose of LIHEAP is to offer home energy assistance in the forms of heating, cooling, or crisis assistance payments, as well as weatherization assistance to help bring long-term energy efficiency to homes located in tribal lands and in the adjacent areas. These resources are aimed at averting home energy crises for Native American households, many of which are headed by parents with children, elderly or disabled household members.  We recognize LIHEAP as a critical link for families, including those with youth and young children, in securing a healthy and safe environment, and join together in support of improving outcomes for AIAN youth.

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.”

Sincerely,

/s/                                                              /s/
Jeannie L. Chaffin                                    Lauren Christopher
Director                                                    Director, Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services                 Office of Community Services

Last Reviewed: July 27, 2018