Building Native American Leaders
The majority of the population in many Native American communities is under the age of 18, which presents a prime opportunity to capture the energies and ingenuity of up-and-coming leaders. The Native American Youth Leadership Alliance (NYLA) has designed a dynamic fellowship program to tap this potential and help build a new generation of change agents capable of mobilizing communities for deep and lasting impact.
This program is one of the few of its kind serving Native American communities. Founded in 2009, NYLA is building a movement of empowerment among young leaders capable of inspiring positive development in their communities. The NYLA Fellowship provides leadership training for young leaders to apply to current issues in their communities while preparing them for long-term roles in strategic leadership for community development. The organizational structure is built around the concept of collective, generational leadership.
“As a former tribal college president and lifelong educator, I understand the challenges for developing new leaders. NYLA’s approach is needed to support and sustain innovation within the transition of leadership,” said Gay Kingman, Cheyenne River, director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s association. “Also, as a NYLA Advisory Council member and elder mentor, I learn as they learn from me. Connecting generations of leaders allows us to see all the dimensions of our communities’ complex issues.”
Northwest Area Foundation has made two grants worth $275,000 to NYLA since 2010. It’s an example of the Foundation’s work to increase the capacity of leaders to reduce poverty and build prosperity.