The Center for Native American Youth Announces Community Partnerships to Create Community-Based Youth Recognition Programs.

Washington, DCMarch 9, 2021 – The Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute (CNAY) has partnered with both the Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC) and the  Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) to create two community-based youth recognition programs: MHA Champions for Change on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and Growing into Wowachinyepi on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.   

The two programs, modeled after CNAY’s national Champions for Change program, recognize youth leaders, support and elevate their voices, and aid in development of their leadership skills through experience-based learning and tailored advocacy training. The program is culturally competent and honors cultural forms of leadership.  

“We are proud to partner with the Cheyenne River Youth Project and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College,” says CNAY’s Executive Director, Nikki Pitre. “together, we will ensure that Native American youth are honored, have better access to opportunity and the skills they need to lead our people in meaningful ways when called upon.” 

“We are so thankful and proud to be a part of this initiative,” says President of NHSC, Dr. Twyla Baker. “I envision this partnership building the capacity of our Tribal Nations to grow our own, advocates and leaders, whose impact will be felt for generations to come.” 

Youth from MHA Champs for Change and Growing into Wowachinyepi will have access to leadership resources, advocacy opportunities, mentors, and a national cohort of fellow champions. Youth will create community action projects, have the support needed to be the leaders they wish to see, and will be recognized and uplifted for their work in their respective communities.  

“Many of our youth take actions every day that reflect and demonstrate meaningful leadership” says CRYP Youth Programs Director, Jerica Widow. “We want to recognize their actions, honor them and the roles they play in our community, and provide support as they pursue their goals.”  

Growing into Wowachinyepi is scheduled to welcome the 2021 cohort on March 29th, and MHA Champions for Change will launch in the spring.  CNAY is proud to be working with tribal communities and entities to ensure that all Native American youth lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and to draw strength from their culture and inspire one another.   


About The Center for Native American Youth 

The Center for Native American Youth is a national education and advocacy organization working to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth ages 24 and under. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan, Center for Native American Youth is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. While a part of the Aspen Institute, Center for Native American Youth is also overseen by a Board of Advisors. We strive to bring greater national attention to the issues facing Native American youth while fostering community-driven solutions, with special emphasis on youth suicide prevention.  

About Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College 

The Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College is a public college that enhances the quality of life and builds a strong, positive identity for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations or Three Affiliated Tribes. NHSC offers in-demand certificate programs and associate degrees as well as three bachelor’s degrees. The college offers high-quality cultural, academic and vocational education. NHSC provides encouragement and support to facilitate successful college careers. 

About The Cheyenne River Youth Project 

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.