The Juneau School District announced its first formal partnership with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska on Tuesday night at the Juneau School Board meeting.
The new partnership is associated with the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative grant and is intended to address the emotional and social needs of Native students and families in Juneau by improving social services throughout the district.
The district was awarded the nearly $3 million, three-year grant in October 2004 to focus resources and attention on youth violence prevention and substance abuse issues. More than 200 communities have awarded similar grants by the U.S. Departments of Health and Social Services, Education and Justice since 1999 to combat rising youth violence and to ensure safe school environments.
The Central Council joins a number of other agencies and organizations throughout Juneau that have partnered with the school district under the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative program. The list includes Big Brothers Big Sisters, Juneau Youth Services, Juneau Police Department, Juvenile Justice and others.
Superintendent Peggy Cowan said the partnership with the Central Council will help strengthen the district's efforts to assure success for all Native students.
"We are very happy to have such exceptional organizations joining forces to advocate for Juneau's youth," she said. "Each brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise which will help us refine our referral system and improve the support we can offer our students and families."
The new partnership will focus on improving the mental health for Native students through the Central Council's "System of Care" strategy, which strives to improve the access of social services that are culturally sensitive and based on traditional Native values.
"This partnership creates an opportunity for increased services," said Ronalda Cadiente-Brown, program director for Juneau Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. "It represents a deeper level of collaboration."
Cadiente-Brown said with the new partnership the Central Council will better access its client base.