Native Students

Creating Communities of Learning that Include Families, Native Students

Native American Youth and Family Centre (NAYA) Resources for Native American Children and Students

Three images show left to right
1.  Three children of around eight to ten years old build a tent structure with an adult mentor. 
2. Several children of around seven to ten years old dance in traditional Native American cultural dress at a festival.
3. A smiling tween girl shows an out of focus document to the camera.

What Challenges do Native American Students Face?

Native American students experience significant barriers to equitable education in schools. A 2020 report found that just 28.1% of Native American students in Washington met the 4th Grade SBA Proficiency Standards in ELA, as opposed to 76% of Asian students and 65% of White students – a deplorable achievement gap that showcases the poor standards of education that Native students are subject to. The “Miseducation” project by ProPublica found that in the Seattle School District “Native American or Alaska Native students are 5.6 times as likely to be suspended as white students” and that “White students are 1.5 times as likely to be enrolled in at least one AP class as Native American or Alaska Native students.” Take a look at the project to learn more about inequities within the school district that you work within. 

Native American Youth and Family Center

In 1974 community members formed The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in the Portland metropolitan area which is located on the land of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla (and more, over 380 federally recognized tribes have traditionally inhabited the land). NAYA states that their vision is to build stable and economically secure communities that practice culture, spirituality and wellness. They offer a variety of programs including, “ lifelong educational opportunities, cultural identity, leadership development, elders support, homes for families, early childhood programs, and paths to financial security based on traditional tribal values. We are committed to eliminating poverty, hunger, family violence, and homelessness.” They offer a wide variety of youth programs in addition to their other outreaches. For example, they offer culture nights, gang outreach and prevention support, a tutoring centre and support for two spirit individuals. You can even learn about their Many Nations Academy, a program for Native high school students that offers unique electives that range from STEM skills to training in cultural traditions. It is important to recognize that COVID-19 has greatly impacted marginalized communities and the non-profits who serve them. As such, some programs have received less growth over the last two years, consider learning about how to support NAYA through their website.

There are three images as follows
1. A young woman with dark curly hair gives a graduation speech while wearing a graduation stole with a Native American patterns and a necklace with a large blue stone in the center. 
2. Another young woman stands for her graduation photo with two different graduation stoles with different Native American patterns.
3. A young woman smiles for a graduation photo.

Additional Resources

  • Sealaska Heritage – They focus on educating Native students and their teachers on culture and heritage of PNW Natives.
  • Northwest Indian College – The only accredited tribal college in Washington state.
  • Oregon Community Foundation – Offers scholarships to Native American students
  • National Indian Child Welfare Association – Works in six major areas; preventing abuse and neglect, the Indian Child Welfare Act, foster care and adoption, children’s mental health, youth engagement and juvenile justice.
  • If you know a child in need of culturally sustaining resources, encourage outreach to their tribe as specific resources may be allocated and available for them.


Groeger, L., Waldman, A., & Eads, D. (2018, October 16). Miseducation. ProPublica.

NAYA | Native American Youth and Family Center. (n.d). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from

Washington State Board of Education . (2020). STATEWIDE INDICATORS OF EDUCATION SYSTEM HEALTH 2020 Summary Report and Recommendations. Retrieved from ERIC.

Gender Justice, Immigrant, Latino Students, Low Income, Native Students, Students of Color

Everyone Deserves an Education.

In research of organizations who aim in improving the education of children, I discovered the organization Plan International, which believes every child has the right and need for an education, no matter their social position or gender. Although not located in the Puget Sound area, this is an INTERNATIONAL organization that serves girls all over the world, even here in Puget Sound. Their teams travels to present at schools, higher education facilities, work places, and career fairs.

Why Plan International?

11 years ago I was an immigrant girl with a family who could barely afford a one bedroom apartment. I was enrolled into my local public school. I had an education, but my peers around me had more. They were always busy with supplemental education and extracurricular activities my parents just could not afford for me. But I was lucky to receive some form of education in the first place. Although I wish I had more, some children wish for the same access to education that I did, “124 million children across the world are out of school and 250 million are not learning basic skills as a result of poor quality education”(Plan International). This is what Plan International hopes to give aspiring students: an education.

History & Purpose

This organization, founded 80 years ago, is present in 75 countries to improve education for children and equalize education for girls. A British journalist, John Langdon-Davies, who began this project by accommodating children’s living needs during the Spanish Civil War, deciphered that there is a direct relationship between a child and a sponsor. This is how he started his first programs, that involved direct sponsorships of a child, providing an individual form of support instead of a unified sponsorship for a lot of children. Today, this organization’s purpose is not only to make sure every child has an access to education, but has the appropriate education fitting their needs and goals.

Who They Serve

  • Vulnerable and excluded children: ages 3-12
  • Youth: ages 13-24 (support into adulthood)
  • Girls: especially from minority groups
  • Social workers wanting a career opportunity in education improvement

Programs & Information Accessibility

There is a lot of information accessible on this site in learning more about the organization. They have information on everything from their program to career opportunities to their appeal to the COVID19 pandemic. They have programs in various topics, such as education, early childhood, skills and work, early childhood, ending violence, youth activism, emergencies, and sexual health and rights. Their approach to all of their programs is to keep up with the nonstop progression of the world and the “persistent developmental challenges that girls are facing”. They use advocacy of people in higher power to speak up from the voices of the children who have suffered from inequality in education due to their social position or gender. Their biggest campaign is Because I Am a Girl, which aligns with their ambition to work with 100 million girls in the next 5 years.

Plan International believes in the improvement of lives through change in three environmental dimensions:

  • influence on harmful social norms – gender, attitudes, and behavior
  • strengthen and provide safety in personal, social, and economic assets
  • impacting global improvement to policies, legislation, budgets, and government services affecting the lives of children


  • right’s based
  • gender transformative
  • open and accountable
  • working with actors, organizations, and institutions
  • working in all contexts
  • working at all levels

Website Improvements

The website is filled with a large volume of information, which makes me wish they organized it better and are more clear with what they have to offer as an organization. They do have a tab for taking action, but they do not state anywhere for why specifically the reader should take action and in what specific way. I still love and respect the mission and various campaigns of this organization and I believe they will accomplish their goal of changing the lives of 100 million girls.

Similar Organizations

  • Asia Society – The Center for Global Education at Asia Society aims to educate ALL students to benefit their careers and citizenship in their global area
  • International Education & Resource Network – non-profit organization who’s purpose to to allow all students to have accessibility to education through global networking and the Internet to participate in collaborative education projects to enhance learning and social awareness

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