The U.S. Department of Education today announced the award of four competitive grants totaling nearly $2 million to tribal education agencies (TEAs), under the State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program. These grants will help to increase the role of TEAs in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students to meet the unique educational and cultural needs of those students and to improve their academic achievement.
"We have a profound obligation to ensure that all children, including American Indian and Alaska Native students, have the opportunity to receive a 21st century education," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "Tribal leaders, teachers, and parents are best-suited to identify and address the needs of their children, and tribal communities deserve to play a greater role in providing American Indian and Alaska Native students with the tools and support they need to be successful in school and beyond."
During regional tribal consultations, tribal officials consistently discussed the lack of opportunities for tribes to meaningfully participate in the education of their own children. Drawing from input received at these consultations, the Obama administration included in its Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization proposal a pilot authority that would elevate the role of TEAs. The Department's fiscal year 2012 Congressional appropriation provided funding for the Department to create a pilot competition to increase the role of tribal education departments in the education of students attending public schools on the tribe's reservation.
The STEP program aims to promote collaboration between TEAs and state educational agencies (SEAs) and to build the capacity of tribes as they develop and enhance their roles, responsibilities and accountability in Indian education. The pilot program will fund projects created through collaborative agreements between TEAs and SEAs that allow for TEAs to perform some state-level functions for certain federal grant programs funded through the ESEA, within public schools located on tribally controlled lands. STEP grants are three-year awards, and year one grant amounts are listed below. Grantees and their SEA partners are:
Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho - $451,481
The Navajo Nation Diné Department of Education, New Mexico - $357,347
The Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma - $739,246
Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon - $385,436