Education Funding

Grants Aim to Support Alaska Native Students’ Education, Well-Being

By Libby Stanford — September 06, 2022 2 min read
The East Anchorage High and Scammon Bay students gather at a home in the Native Village to learn how to comb fur from a musk ox hide using special combs and common forks. The fur can later be spun into yarn.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The latest round of federal grants to support Alaska Native students and their education will pump more than $35 million into efforts to recognize the students’ unique experiences.

The 28 U.S. Department of Education grants announced Sept. 2 to Alaska Native organizations, school districts, and “entities in Alaska governed predominantly by Alaska Natives” are part of the Alaska Native Education program. For the past decade, the program has funded projects that recognize the “important roles that Alaska Native languages and cultures play in the educational success and long-term well-being of Alaska Native students,” the department said.

Alaska Native students in the state’s most rural communities often have fewer resources to support their education than their non-native peers. But in the past decade, the Education Department has funded exchange programs, language immersion projects, and ancestral heritage curricula to improve Alaska Native outcomes.

For example, the grant program in the past funded the state’s Sister School Exchange, which allowed students from urban areas like Anchorage to visit rural Native communities and learn about Native culture by participating in activities like skinning otters, turning seal intestines into raincoats, and combing a musk ox hide for wool. Students who participated in that program told Education Week in a 2019 report that it gave them a new understanding of both their culture and cultures different than their own.

See Also

The East Anchorage High and Scammon Bay students gather at a home in the Native Village to learn how to comb fur from a musk ox hide using special combs and common forks. The fur can later be spun into yarn.
The East Anchorage High and Scammon Bay students gather at a home in the Native Village to learn how to comb fur from a musk ox hide using special combs and common forks. The fur can later be spun into yarn.
Erin Irwin/Education Week

The recipients of this year’s grants can use the funds to support curriculum and education programs that address the needs of Alaska Native Students and the development of student enrichment programs in science and mathematics. The department also allows recipients to use the money for training for educators, early-childhood programs, and parent outreach.

For example, the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a Native Alaska preservation nonprofit in Juneau, received $8.8 million in four separate grants for projects that will create culturally responsive STEAM education for middle school students, “indigenize and transform” teacher and administration preparation programs, expand dual language pathways for the Tlingit culture and language, and support learning about the Xaad Kil, Sm’algyax and Lingit ancestors.

The Education Department recently conducted tribal consultation, including multiple listening sessions with Native leaders, to ensure projects funded through both the American Rescue Plan and the Alaska Native Education program are well supported. The department specifically asked Native leaders about how the officials can “meaningfully improve reporting procedures, technical assistance, and peer reviewer recruitment,” according to a news release.

The federal government allocated $85 million in American Rescue Plan funds to Alaska Native organizations and entities that are governed predominately by Alaska Natives.

“Every Alaska Native student—in rural and remote villages, in regional hubs, and in urban centers—should have access to high-quality and culturally responsive educational opportunities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement about the grant program.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding How States Are Rethinking Where School Funding Should Go
There's constant debate over the best way to allocate state money to schools. Here are some ways states are reworking their school funding.
7 min read
Conceptual illustration of tiny people is planning the personal budget, accounting, analysis.
Muhamad Chabibalwi/iStock/Getty
Education Funding A Court Ordered Billions for Education. Why Schools Might Not Get It Now
The North Carolina Supreme Court is considering arguments for overturning a statewide order for more school funding.
6 min read
A blue maze with a money bag at the end of the maze.
Education Funding Schools Want More Time to Spend COVID-19 Aid for Homeless Students
Senators want to give districts more time to spend COVID relief funds for students experiencing homelessness.
4 min read
New canvas school bags hanging on the backs of empty classroom student chairs in a large modern classroom
iStock/Getty Images
Education Funding ESSER Isn't the Only School Funding Relief That's Disappearing Soon
Federal relief aid, policies to prevent schools from losing enrollment-based funding, and support for vulnerable families are expiring soon.
10 min read
Vector illustration of a businessman's hand holding a slowly vanishing dollar sign.