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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Five Native Youth Selected as Inaugural Class of Champions for Change
by Native News Network Staff in Native Currents

WASHINGTON – The Center for Native American Youth, a policy program at the Aspen Institute, announced Thursday the names of its inaugural class of Champions for Change. This new program at the Center is a spinoff of a White House initiative and is designed to shine a spotlight on positive stories in Indian country, promote hope among Native American youth, and engage these successful youth in leadership opportunities.

Retired US Senator Byron Dorgan and the Center will host a pair of events on Monday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 5 to celebrate these five inspirational Native American youth.

"I am inspired by the incredible stories of leadership we heard from American Indian children through our Champions for Change initiative,"

said former US Senator Dorgan who created the Center in 2011.

"I believe our Champions for Change program will promote hope and recognize the remarkable leadership among young Native Americans."

The five youth selected as 2013 Champions for Change are:

A panel discussion with the Champions will be held on March 5 in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing Room (Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 628). Champions will describe their youth-led efforts as well as highlight the youth priorities for addressing needs in Indian country. Members of Congress, including new Chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee – Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, will be attending this event to offer words of encouragement to the youth.

During their time in DC the Champions will also be touring the White House and Capitol as well as meeting with White House staff, federal agency leaders, and many other distinguished individuals.

"It is important that we tell positive stories of success in Indian country and use this as a way to generate attention and policy change which address the needs in tribal and urban Indian communities,"

commented Senator Dorgan.

Teresa Baldwin, who was named a Champion of Change through the former White House program in 2011, said.

"Being a Champion of Change gave me more motivation to do more for my community and it really helped me gain a voice. It's important for youth to get involved and take as many opportunities as you can."

Supporters of the Champions for Change program include the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Aspen Institute, Choctaw Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and most recently, an anonymous donor who gave $125,000 to support this project over the next few years. Nike also donated hundreds of dollars of N7 (Nike's Native brand) product for the youth and their chaperones.

"We are delighted to support the Native American Champions for Change program through our scholarship fund,"

said Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute.

"Supporting young leadership is an important component of the Institute's mission."

On March 4, during the National Congress of American Indians' conference, the Center will host its second annual reception.

The reception will celebrate the Center's impactful work, which has included over 50 roundtables reaching out to youth of more than 150 tribes across Indian country, national convening to collaborate on policy and programming for Native youth, and building an online information resource hub related to improving the lives of Native youth.

Several members of Congress, including Congressman Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma; Senator Michael Crapo, R-Wyoming; Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota; Senator Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota; Congresswoman Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; Senator Jon Tester, D-Montana; Senator Tom Udall, D-New Mexico; and Congressman Don Young, R-Arkansas are serving as honorary hosts for this event.

Events are open to the public. Details are below:

Center for Native American Youth 2nd Annual Reception

Monday, March 4
5:00 - 7:00 pm
L'Enfant Plaza Hotel
Monet Rooms 3 & 4

Champions for Change Panel Discussion

Tuesday, March 5
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Senate Dirksen Office Building 628


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