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
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
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