Report: Youth Programs Underfunded, Overstretched

Positive Pathways

Positive Pathways

Related to the Penobscot story and RISE for Men and Boys of Color, First Nations recently published a report that examines the organizational characteristics of, plus the strengths and challenges faced by programs that specifically serve Native American boys and young men, which as a group tends to experience more social and health disparities than white males and Native females. In fact, previous research by First Nations noted that the key to overcoming these disparities is to reconnect Native boys and young men with their cultures and communities, and provide strong mentorship opportunities for this group.

The report – Positive Pathways: A Landscape Analysis of Programs Serving Native American Boys and Young Men – examines the current landscape of programs serving Native boys and young men. The findings from this report generally conclude that numerous programs exist across Indian Country that serve this group; however, these programs tend to be severely underfunded by philanthropy, as well as significantly overstretched in their staff resources. Because of limited resources and inconsistent funding, programs serving Native boys and young men are scarce and short-lived, thus hindering the development of these critical programs.

Moreover, programs are in need of resources to train and develop mentors within their programs. This includes equipping men already in the community with the skills to take on mentoring positions, and building a pipeline for boys and young men in programs to become future mentors. This follows with First Nations’ belief that it is critical to reconnect Native boys and young men with their cultures and communities, and to provide strong positive mentorship for them.

The report recommends that funders consider the benefits of supporting existing and new programs over longer periods of time. There is a huge need for extended support so that organizations have the time to achieve and sustain long-lasting impacts. With this comes a need to receive less-restrictive funding so that organizations can grow their capacities where needed and allow for program growth and change.

The results in the report come from a national survey that First Nations conducted to collect information about the overall landscape of organizations and entities serving Native American youth. Additional information was gleaned from follow-up telephone calls and an in-person convening of 10 of these organizations. Through the report’s dissemination, First Nations hopes that nonprofits serving Native boys and young men, tribal government leaders, educators of Native American children, federal decision makers, grantmakers and other stakeholders of Native communities will learn about issues affecting these services and may work toward favorable systemic and policy changes. It is also hoped that the body of knowledge about services for Native boys and men will be significantly expanded, and topics for future research or the need to develop additional programs to serve these supportive organizations will likely be identified, with the aim of improving these efforts which, in turn, will improve the lives of those constituents.

The research and subsequent report were funded under a $150,000 grant to First Nations from RISE for Boys and Men of Color. However, the opinions expressed in this report are those of First Nations and do not necessarily reflect the views of RISE for Boys and Men of Color host institutions or any of its supporters or funders.

The full report can be downloaded from the First Nations website at this link.

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