SOU Native American youth program receives grant

The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation has awarded the Southern Oregon University Native American Youth Academy Program, Konaway Nika Tillicum, $10,000.

The Konaway Nika Tillicum Native American Youth Academy is a self-supported year-round academic and cultural support program, culminating in an eight-day residential academy. The program is for academically driven Native American students in grades 7 through 12 who would benefit from immersion in a college setting, exposure to the academic and career possibilities of higher education and the development of Native American cultural and community ties. This year, 43 youth &

including six Alaskan Native students from Sitka, Alaska &

are registered. Half of the registered youth are returning students.

Konaway students are divided into middle school and high school classes. The classes are modeled after the concept of community-based learning where older students work with younger students. Taught by SOU faculty, alumni and students, the course topics include poetry and writing, theatre, communication, engineering and fine arts. This year, the academy is held from July 26 through August 2.

The weeklong academy will conclude with the Konaway students presenting "Voices for the Seventh Generation" on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Stage from 12:45 to 1:45 pm on August 1. Admission is free.

The show will include performances of Native American and Alaskan Native song and dance, theatric scenes and modern dance, as well as students reading their poetry and exhibiting their artwork.

The Umpqua Indian Foundation gift will support approximately one-third of the Konaway annual budget, which includes the cost of room and board in the SOU residence halls, equipment, faculty and staff, supplies and transportation.

The Umpqua Indian Foundation primary funds projects that provide youth education and strengthen youth and family relationships. The Foundation funds projects on a yearly basis, and only accepts an average of 20 percent of the projects submitted.

"I feel truly fortunate to receive the Umpqua Indian Foundation's gift this year," said Chava Florendo, Konaway Nika Tillicum program coordinator. "The Cow Creek Umpqua Foundation has continued to show their dedication to Native American youth and education through their support of the Konaway Nika Tillicum program at Southern Oregon University. More than 71 percent of the Konaway students who have graduated from high school have gone on to college, a true testament to the support received from the Konaway program and the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation."

The Konaway Nika Tillicum Youth Academy has also received a $2,500 funding gift from the City of Ashland Economic and Cultural Development Grant and a $1,600 gift from the Ashland Rotary Community Support Fund.

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