HOMETOWN: Jackson, CA
Dahkota is a student at Stanford University who understands the importance of education and the need for encouragement from peers, family, community and the school system.
Dahkota founded a peer-to-peer study group called NERDS (Native Education Raising Dedicated Students) while in 8th grade. As part of this group, Dahkota worked with local high schools and middle schools to help Native American students better connect with and relate to both educational and community expectations. His efforts include highlighting each student’s individual strengths, and connecting them with personal mentors to help them excel in and out of school.
Today, NERDS is a trademarked nonprofit organization, with 10 chapters and hundreds of involved students. With a mission to decrease the dropout rate of Native American students, NERDS is focused on improving grades and making up required credits through peer-to-peer mentoring. To date, NERDS has a 100% success rate of students graduating after their participation in their summer school program, which enables students to acquire the credits they needed to finish high school on time. NERDS has successfully helped students graduate on time, prevented suicides and incarcerations, and encouraged healthy lifestyle choices while connecting youth to their communities for additional support.