On September 18, 2013, professionals from across the U.S. will gather at the University of Minnesota to share proven approaches for engaging youth in school and community. The Frames for Change conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear from local and national speakers on ways to support student engagement and academic success. With a focus on supporting American Indian youth, this conference will feature a keynote address by Dr. Martin Brokenleg of Reclaiming Youth International. This conference aims to provide participants with information on successful programs and approaches that have engaged both American Indian and non-Indian youth in school and community life. Sponsors for this event include the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), the Corporation for National & Community Service, the National Youth Leadership Council, American Indian Business Leaders, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School.
Providing a framework for the conference is the Youth Engagement Zone project entitled Connecting Through Service (CTS). This project, currently being implemented at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School (FDLOS) in Cloquet, Minnesota, encourages youth engagement in school by implementing a diverse set of student engagement opportunities in a tribal grant school. Specifically, the CTS project integrates four research-based strategies for engaging FDLOS students at risk of dropping out. FDLOS takes great pride in integrating the Ojibwe culture within its curriculum. These strategies support the school’s focus on culturally relevant student engagement and include:
- Implementing Check & Connect;
- Embedding service-learning as a consistent component of core academic curricula through training and leadership provided by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC);
- Integrating an opportunity for students to explore entrepreneurial skills through a collaboration with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and the establishment of a high school chapter of the American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL); and
- Providing opportunities for student leadership through the development of a student leadership team and training in leadership skills provided by NYLC’s National Youth Leadership Training and AIBL summer camp.
In addition to a panel discussion with CTS partners, participants in the Frames for Change conference will have the opportunity to attend sessions on topics such as:
- Preparing American Indian Youth to be Entrepreneurs
- Get Ready for College! Essential Transition Skills for American Indian High School Youth
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Be Great: Graduate Program
- Finding Our Voice: Native Youth Share Their Journey (see 3:54 min. preview)
- K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice
- Check & Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention
The Frames for Change conference is designed for American Indian and non-Indian leaders, educators, vocational rehabilitation counselors, youth development and community professionals, and others invested in bright futures for all youth. The conference is free but registration is required by Monday, September 9, 2013. For more information on the conference and to register, visit the Frames for Change conference website.
Following the Frames for Change conference, a Check & Connect Comprehensive Implementation Training will be held. Check & Connect Comprehensive Implementation Training provides participants with a thorough overview of Check & Connect and its background; information about how to prepare their site to implement Check & Connect; and the information, competencies, and skills needed to be an effective Check & Connect mentor. See Check & Connect Comprehensive Implementation Training for more information and to register for this training (deadline September 9). A limited number of Check & Connect Training Scholarships are available to participants of the Frames for Change conference.
About the Authors: This article was co-authored by Sharon Mule’ and Jean Ness, Ed.D.. Ms. Mule’ is the project coordinator for Connecting Through Service – a student retention project at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School in Cloquet, Minnesota – at the Institute on Community Integration and a member of the Check & Connect team. Dr. Ness is the director of Check & Connect, as well as several projects at the Institute on Community Integration serving American Indian youth in K11 and postsecondary schools, including Expanding the Circle: Transition Resources for American Indian Students and Culture-Based Arts Integration Curriculum.
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