Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Potter Earns Billy Mills' 'Dreamstarter' Grant
by Will Chavez - Senior Reporter Cherokee Phoenix
Breanna Potter
BRUSHY, OK — On March 5, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills announced that Cherokee Nation citizen Breanna Potter was a recipient of a $10,000 “Dreamstarter” grant.

This is the first class of American Indian youths to receive the grants for projects that help them bring their dreams to life. Each of the 10 “Dreamstarter” recipients, who are all American Indian youth under age 30, will work together with a community nonprofit to increase wellness supported by Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

Potters’ dream is to work with local youths to educate their rural community about diabetes prevention and healthy eating. Her project will locally address the epidemic of diabetes and poor nutrition that many Native communities face. It would also teach the Native youth team members leadership skills, training in public speaking and promotion and organizing to help them follow their dreams.

“We’ve been working on this for so many months, and we poured a lot of our hearts into this, so it means a lot to us that we got selected,” Potter said.

She said that in her application she had to explain what her project was for her community group, which is the Brushy Cherokee Action Association in Sequoyah County. Her application also had to explain how she wanted to use the funding, a detailed timeline and a detailed budget for how the money would be spent.

Her project has two parts. The first is to establish a youth leadership team using Cherokee youths living in Brushy who demonstrate leadership qualities and do well in school who will likely be future leaders.

“We’re going to take them and try to give them some life skills, teach them to make some good choices now, teach them things like building a resume,” Potter said. “And then those students are actually going to create a diabetes prevention program, which is the second part of our program. They’re going to educate the Native community about what diabetes is and how they can prevent.”

Potter said one reason she chose to tackle diabetes prevention is because her mother lives with type I diabetes, although about 90 percent of Native people who have diabetes have type II diabetes.

“We want people to know in some cases it’s preventable (type II diabetes), and we want people to know that in making healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy eating and being active, things of that nature, they’re able to help prevent it,” she said.

Potter said she is paying forward the help she received from adults in her community who mentored her in high school and encouraged her to attend college. She said they told her “she could accomplish things” and “she could be a role model to other people.”

“That made such a difference in my life. I remember seeing so many youth my own age that had all the potential in the world but didn’t have anybody there the help them,” she said. “I’m very thankful to Vickie Owens. She’s been the mentor in this project. She’s poured in a lot of time and energy and a lot of herself. And a big thank you goes to the Brushy community and the Brushy Cherokee Action Association for all that they have done and offered up to the program.”

Potter is a senior at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah majoring in special education. She said she eventually wants to work in a high-Native population and teach in a junior high or high school.

Potter said she hopes to get her project going in July and that she and others are doing prep work for it.

“I’m so inspired by our first class of ‘Dreamstarters,’” said Mills. “The ‘Dreamstarter’ program is one more step towards overcoming the poverty of dreams among so many Native young people. The ‘Dreamstarters’ come from communities and tribes all over the country. They are bound together by the idea that, despite the challenges, their dreams can guide them to build a strong future for themselves and for their communities. I look forward to working with each ‘Dreamstarter’ over the next year, to helping them grow into leaders, and to watching their dreams come to life.”

Running Strong will give away fifty $10,000 “Dreamstarter” grants over the next five years to support Native youths’ dreams. At the end of the grant period, Running Strong will choose five projects to be eligible for an additional $50,000 grant. Each year, grants are awarded to projects around a unifying theme. The 2015-16 theme is wellness.

For more information, visit

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000 - 2015 of Vicki Williams Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999 - 2015 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!