Generation Indigenous Youth Challenge

Generation Indigenous Youth Challenge

On April 27, 2015, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) accepted the “Gen-I (Generation Indigenous) Youth Challenge” sponsored by the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute.  By accepting the challenge, First Nations began its affiliation with the new National Native Youth Network.

U.S. President Barack Obama has made investing in the lives of Native American youth a priority for his administration. After visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014, that commitment was further reinforced. The president and first lady are dedicated to improving the lives of Native American youth, and to using their influence to raise awareness of Indian Country and advance efforts to improve the lives of Native children. This is why the president launched “Generation Indigenous” (Gen-I), a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed.

The Gen-I Challenge is a call to action and the first step in engaging a broad network of people interested in addressing the issues facing Native youth and creating a platform through which Native youth can access information about opportunities and resources, and have their voices and positive contributions highlighted and elevated. The focus will include attainment of higher education, entrepreneurship training, and mentoring, among other aspects.

“First Nations has long supported Native community and economic development efforts, most of which directly or indirectly benefit young people, so we welcome the opportunity to join this important movement in Indian Country,” said Michael Roberts, President of First Nations. “By investing in Native youth and giving them a sense of place and tradition in the community, a community ensures that it will have bright and capable future leaders.”

Since 2002, First Nations has operated its Native Youth and Culture Fund. Under the Native Youth and Culture Fund, First Nations has awarded 279 grants across the U.S. totaling more than $4.69 million through yearend 2014. This program has invested in and supported Native communities working to engage Native youth through the promotion of Native culture.

In accepting the Gen-I Challenge, First Nations has committed to the following:

  • Promote the challenge on its social media channels and encourage others to do the same.
  • Post information about the challenge on the organization’s website under its "Investing in Native Youth" program section.
  • Announce the awarding of an additional $400,000 in grants for the year 2015 under the First Nations Native Youth and Culture Fund by May 31, 2015.
  • Provide First Nations’ recent grantees (2014-2015) with information on the challenge and encourage them to also participate and promote it, including asking the youth in their communities and programs to actively participate in the event and share their stories.
  • Analyze data and prepare a report on youth and culture-related grant requests that First Nations has received under its Native Youth and Culture Fund over the past five years (2010-2014), which will highlight some crucial areas of need in Native youth-serving programs nationally.  This report will be a valuable resource for foundations and funding entities as they seek to underwrite effective and promising programs for Native American youth.  The report will be released by May 15, 2015.

For more information on the Gen-I Challenge, visit or access the Generation Indigenous toolkit for youth ambassadors and other participants.