NM Delegation Welcomes $2 Million for Native American Schools

Funding will help launch & maintain 5 schools focused on community involvement, college prep

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham welcomed news that the Native American Community Academy (NACA) Foundation is receiving a highly competitive $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch and maintain five schools in New Mexico Native communities. The NACA-Inspired School Network is one of 12 programs nationally to receive this award.

The funding will support five schools in Gallup, Santa Clara Pueblo, Shiprock, Eastern Cibola County and on the Navajo Nation. Based on a model pioneered by the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, the schools focus on preparing and encouraging Native American students to attend college while maintaining Native culture, language and community. A total of $472,806 will be awarded in the first year, and the grant is expected to be renewed at $523,222 for years 2-4 if the schools continue to meet the grant’s objectives. The network plans to serve a total of 1,080 students by the fourth year.

“Students in our Tribal communities deserve a high-quality education to prepare them for success in college, careers, and wherever else life may take them,” said Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Innovative Tribal schools like the Native American Community Academy give Native students and their families an education option that reflects Tribal culture and community values, and I’m excited that this funding will help expand their successful model to more students throughout New Mexico.” 

“I have seen firsthand how Native American Community Academy students thrive with a sense of community and an education that focuses on their own cultural traditions and values,” Heinrich said. “This grant will allow that successful model of high-quality education to be replicated at other sites in New Mexico to prepare our students in Indian Country for bright futures.”

“A vast array of cultures and heritages is a unique New Mexico asset; we must protect this legacy,” Pearce said. “It is critically important that Native American students have the opportunity to learn about their heritage. This grant will better prepare them for higher education, so that they have the opportunity to return to, and enhance their communities. It will also ensure that Native American schools receive the support they need to accomplish their mission. I am pleased that this well-deserved grant has received approval and I will continue to help support similar efforts in the future.” 

“These important federal funds will help provide Tribal students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy while reflecting the important role that that their rich heritage, language and culture plays in their communities,” Luján said. “Investments like this one are an essential part of our efforts to unlock greater opportunities for our children through a quality education.”

“The Native American Community Academy has been successful in Albuquerque because it was built in a collaborative effort led by Native Americans to educate Native Americans,” Lujan Grisham said. “I’m thrilled that this concept will expand throughout New Mexico with the help of this grant.”

The new grant funding will help provide school startup services, a Native college-preparatory teaching and learning framework, school leadership support, performance management, and financial and operational support. 

The NACA-Inspired School Network consists of four charter and Bureau of Indian Education schools: Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque; Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock; Dzi? Dit ?’ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance (DEAP) on the Navajo Nation; and Kha-p'o Academy at Santa Clara Pueblo. The network also supports two emerging schools: the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) Academy serving Acoma and Laguna Pueblos in Eastern Cibola County; and Six Directions Indigenous School in Gallup.