Center for Lifelong Education (CLE) audiences benefit from a variety of programs and the partnerships that help make them possible. These include:
Suicide prevention-community mobilization and life skills training
Suicide among tribal youth is becoming epidemic. The planning, technical assistance and service delivery approaches used by CLE’s staff and their consultants are place-based and take into consideration the cultural, environmental, community strengths, and attributes of the tribal stakeholders. Through experience, we have found that once tribal leadership and community members understand that they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to address this challenge, they become creative in designing appropriate and sustainable prevention programs and collaborations that strengthen youth, parents and the community.
The life-skills training and curriculum is based on the program and processes initially known as the Zuni Life-Skills Development Curriculum. This program has been improved and is now known as the American Indian Life-Skills Curriculum, a school-based approach to suicide prevention. The benefits to our tribal audiences include knowing that this evidence-based model and process works, and that it ended youth suicides for more than ten years in Zuni. The community is an integral part of the planning and implementation processes. Students learn practical relationship skills and enhanced problem-solving, as well as leadership skills and knowledge that are important to choosing opportunities that end suicides and support life.
The K-12 public education continuum for the majority of Indian children in New Mexico is intellectually stifling, promotes marginalization and has failed to provide successful learning experiences and academic achievement for students in rural reservations and urban communities. The challenges of school and educational reform are complex and diverse. They spring from historical situations of forced acculturation, misguided federal and state policies, social/economic oppression, and sub-standard systems of education provided by the Bureau of Indian Education and public systems.
Funds earmarked for academic enrichment, experiential education, cultural support, and prevention programs have been cut or substantially reduced. Federal funds designated under PL 81-874 (Impact Aid) are diverted by districts serving Indian populations for other purposes to make up short falls. The impacts statewide are that Indian students are overly represented in the lowest levels of academic achievement, have the highest suicide rates, the lowest achievement rates, and the highest drop-out rates of all ethnic groups.
The majority of schools serving Indian students in the 23 districts failed to make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind requirements. Yet school districts continue with failed approaches, and they ignore the root causes of school failure. Instead, they need to plan meaningful educational reform and change practices and policies so all Indian children may excel and experience success.
The Center for Lifelong Education (CLE) offers a series of custom-designed training programs for tribal leadership and communities to become aware of applicable laws and public policy, determine ways to change the relationships with school districts and create enhanced standards of accountability and involvement in decision-making.
Community capacity strengthening
CLE provides facilitation services focused on strategic community-based planning, environmental scans and relationship building within tribal communities focused on assisting communities in ways that address economic, educational and safety issues. The primary methodology we use in tribal communities is the strength-based methodologies adapted from the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approaches. We have found that the AI approaches exemplified by the 4D [ADD full name] and SOAR [ADD full name] strategies are effective and are adaptable to tribal cultural and community contexts.
One of CLE’s priorities is the establishment and maintenance of positive and supportive tribal relationships. These relations are important in several ways, so we have met with the tribal leadership of each Pueblo, the Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation. The majority of the tribes in New Mexico are represented in the student body of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Positive relations enable us to call upon tribal leadership to meet with students and attend functions associated with the College, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and CLE. Positive relations are also important for fundraising activities and garnering support that assists with infrastructure development and programming to enhance services and opportunities.
Land Grant services
Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Martin, the Institute of American Indian Arts is strengthening its capacity and capability to become the leading tribal college land-grant institute and resource in northern New Mexico. The Center for Lifelong Education has been assigned the task of developing IAIA’s land grant programs. Our staff has begun the process of reconceptualizing the IAIA-USDA grant programs to support this effort. We also have begun a survey among the tribes to determine how we can design programs and services that meet the wide range of needs represented among tribal groups in New Mexico.
As we continue this process, we will soon be able to provide an enhanced range of agricultural and support programs available through tribal colleges (1994s) under the current and pending Farm Bills. Our direct involvement with FALCON, USDA programs, and partnerships with the established land-grant universities will enable us to expand land-grant services to the Pueblos and northern New Mexico.
CLE has hosted a yearly health, wellness and nutrition conference at IAIA, and the upcoming conference on sustainable agriculture topics is scheduled for Fall 2010 at the IAIA campus. The conference will feature tribal farmers, gardeners, native food crops, demonstrations, produce judging, and specialty topics in traditional food system development, seed sovereignty, nutrition, and food safety.
International exchanges and partnerships
International relations are an exciting program aspect of CLE. We have made strong partnerships in South Africa (University of Pretoria-Distance Learning), the University of Botswana (Distance Education) the San communities of D’Kar and Kang, the Bokomoso Early Childhood Program in D’Kar, and the Botswana Department of Curriculum and Evaluation. All of these opportunities came out of our partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s work in Africa.
We have focused our partnership activity on a large number of community development issues. These include NGO (non-government organization) training, leadership, land tenure and agriculture issues, tradition-based economic development, land acquisition, preschool-basic and secondary level educational reform, teacher training, and distance education for rural locations.
Our partnerships in Mexico include the development of a MOA [Memorandum of Agreement] between CLE and the Centro de Desarrollo Humano Hacia la Comunidad A.C. (CEDEHC), located in Cuernavaca, State of Morelos. This partnership has enabled CLE to host Indigenous traditional healers the past two years in Santa Fe and will allow an International Diploma course to be provided to area residents within CLE. We also partner with Indigenous teachers from Oaxaca, Guatemala and Honduras. CLE hosted an initial meeting this year to discuss collaborations, school reform and teacher training opportunities.