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.

Events

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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

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 Inside a Summer Learning Camp With an Uncertain Future After ESSER
A high-poverty district offers an enriching, free summer learning program. But the end of ESSER means tough choices.
5 min read
Alaysia Kimble, 9, laughs with fellow students while trying on a firefighter’s hat and jacket at Estabrook Elementary during the Grizzle Learning Camp on June, 26, 2024 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Alaysia Kimble, 9, laughs with fellow students while trying on a firefighter’s hat and jacket at Estabrook Elementary during the Grizzly Learning Camp on June, 26, 2024 in Ypsilanti, Mich. The district, with 70 percent of its students coming from low-income backgrounds, is struggling with how to continue funding the popular summer program after ESSER funds dry up.
Sylvia Jarrus for Education Week
Education Funding Jim Crow-Era School Funding Hurt Black Families for Generations, Research Shows
Mississippi dramatically underfunded Black schools in the Jim Crow era, with long-lasting effects on Black families.
5 min read
Abacus with rolls of dollar banknotes
iStock/Getty
Education Funding What New School Spending Data Show About a Coming Fiscal Cliff
New data show just what COVID-relief funds did to overall school spending—and the size of the hole they might leave in school budgets.
4 min read
Photo illustration of school building and piggy bank.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus
Education Funding When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
iStock/Getty