“The state of education in our nation’s K-12 schools for Native students is distressing.  Native students perform two to three grade levels below their white peers in reading and mathematics.  They are 237 percent more likely to drop out of school and 207 percent more likely to be expelled than white students.  For every 100 American Indian/Alaska Native kindergartners, only seven will earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 34 of every 100 white kindergartners.” – National Council of State Legislatures, State Tribal Institute, 2008

The vision of the HEART initiative is to create communities in which education is responsive to traditional culture and is the catalyst for healing and positive change.

The HEART initiative brings together programs and partners with research-proven results to empower teachers with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to make lasting changes for Native youth. Designed as a multi-year project, the HEART initiative offers a series of professional and holistic growth experiences which are unparalleled in their ability to give teachers the skills and resources they need to help Native students thrive.

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The core of the Initiative will be centered around Communities of Practice which will facilitate professional reflection and growth.  Teachers, mentors, facilitators, local elders and other community leaders and project stakeholders will work together to establish cooperative learning environments for non-Native and Native participants to learn more about local tradition, accomplished teaching, personal reflection and digital acumen.  The success of these Communities of Practice will better position local communities to bring about positive change.

Each Community of Practice will be comprised of four Circles.  Each Circle represents a critical component of the Community of Practice that –when experienced in context of the other Circles- will help teachers prepare to work with the needs of Native communities and become accomplished and culturally-responsive educators.  The four Circles are: Self, Other, Reflection and Connection.

SD Buffalo Trail

View the HEART Initiative Diagram here.

View Program Goals and Objectives here.