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Aug 31, 2017

Here Comes Another Great Year!

The Tohono O
The Tohono O'odham Youth!


Greetings from the NAAF Staff, Volunteers, Students, and Parents!

 It’s already here! The 2017/2018 school year has begun, and we are ready to go. This year we will be running the Gu Vo Academic After-School Program in a beautiful new facility, the Al Jek Recreation Center, in the remote village of Menager’s Dam, Gu Vo. We have partnered with the Al Jek Recreation Center, and will be combining our efforts to serve twice as many students by providing quality tutoring in math, reading, and S.T.E.M. subjects. We will also continue to empower out students to avoid the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and violence, through our Too Good for Drugs and Violence curriculum. Our partnership with the USDA continues, and we will be providing healthy and delicious snacks and suppers each day, and modeling a healthy lifestyle and diet. Perhaps most importantly, we will continue to provide lessons, stories, and arts and crafts that help to preserve the cultural heritage and language of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Last year was the most successful year we have had yet for our program. For the sixth year in a row, none of the students enrolled in our programs dropped out of school, or out of the program. We consider this a huge success in an area where a dropout rate of over 50% is the norm. We are extremely proud to report that the District of Gu Vo had more graduating high school seniors than any other district in the T.O. Nation. This is solid proof that our programs are working, and are providing a valuable and much needed service to the deserving people of Gu Vo. Education is the key to opening up more opportunity to the at risk youth of this remote area, and the youth are stepping up to the plate to make it happen. We couldn’t be more proud!

We would especially like to mention two of the graduating seniors from our program; River and Verland. Both River and Verland graduated last year, and are going on to college and bright futures. Both of these young men have been a big help in our program, and to the community in general. As members of the Gu Vo Youth Council, they have represented their peers faithfully in helping to make the important decisions that dictate the policies of the District. River and Verland have also been great role models to our youth, and serve as mentors in both our After-School program and our Summer Adventure Program. Kudos River and Verland! We are so proud of you both, as well as the other graduates from Gu Vo.

Your support is what makes these successes possible, and we are endlessly grateful for all that you do. Every donation counts, and goes towards supplies, curriculum, healthy food, educational field trips, and the hiring of experienced and dedicated tutors and program managers. Thank you so much for all you do! We are looking forward to another great year!

Sincere thanks,
Jeremy Paxton, Director of Development
Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF)

Summer Adventure Program!
Summer Adventure Program!
T.O. the Top!
T.O. the Top!
Gu Vo Rocks!
Gu Vo Rocks!
Congratulations Verland!
Congratulations Verland!
Way to go River!
Way to go River!
Jun 20, 2017

Summer Fun Has Begun!

The school year has come to an end, and it’s mid-June in the Sonoran Desert. Temperatures are soaring over 100 degrees. For the kids living in the district of Gu Vo on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, it can be difficult to find fun, productive activities during the summer months, but NAAF has the solution: The Gu Vo Academic Summer Adventure Program (SAP)!

This year NAAF has once again partnered with the Al Jek Recreation Center in Menager’s Dam, Gu Vo for our summer program. Al Jek is a great, newer facility, with its own kitchen, multi-purpose rooms, play area, and even a pool! We are excited to incorporate swimming lessons into this year’s curriculum. What a great way to cool off, and stay active!

The goal of the program is to continue academic lessons through the summer, build our youths’ self-esteem, spark curiosity, and shape strong, healthy, contributing members of society. June 12, 2017, marked the start of the seventh year of the program, which benefits 40 students per day for six weeks. The program focuses on teaching reading, writing, math, technology, science and other STEM activities, and health education. Also incorporated are the teaching and development of traditional Tohono O'odham art, handcrafts, language, gardening, and cultural history. The program also combines physical and psychological safety, supportive relationships, appropriate structure, athletics, opportunities to belong, positive social norms, support for efficacy and mattering, opportunities for skill building, and integration of family, school, and community efforts into the program. We follow these and all of the Arizona Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs. This summer we are also teaching the youth how to say no to underage drinking and substance abuse through the evidence based “Too Good for Drugs and Violence” curriculum.

Every year we get a great response from the kids enrolled in the program. For many, it is one of the only times during the year when they will have the opportunity to explore outside of the reservation, and we have some really exciting field trips lined up this year, with trips to the Biosphere 2, Kitt Peak Observatory, the Tohono O’odham Truck of Love, and a few cultural heritage sites.

With your help, we are bringing another great summer program to the amazing kids of the Gu Vo District in 2017. Going forward, as our programs continue to grow and inspire, we hope to branch out to the other districts of the Tohono O’odham Nation who so desperately need healthy, safe, educational, and creative outlets, especially during the summer months when school is not in session.

All of us at NAAF truly appreciate your help with funding for our programs. Your generous donations have helped to make the programs a success, and we are extremely grateful. Thank you!

May 31, 2017

What a Great Year!

Well friends, it’s hard to believe, but another school year has come and gone, and what an incredible year it has been for the youth of the Gu Vo Academic After-School Program! I think it is safe to say that this has been the best year yet. Thanks to your generous, continued support, our program continues to grow, and to provide more and more opportunities for the youth of Gu Vo to realize their potential, to set positive goals, and to lead healthy and active lives.

Perhaps the best measure of success that we have for our program is the number of students enrolled who graduate from high school and middle school. This year we are so excited to report that we have more high school and middle school graduates from the program than any previous year! This year we had 6 high school graduates, and 8 middle school graduates in our program. In addition, as has been the case since we first started the program 6 years ago, none of the students enrolled in the program have dropped out of school. In an area where the dropout rate is over 50%, this is an enormous accomplishment!

This year, our district of Gu Vo had more graduates than any other district in the Tohono O’odham Nation. While we are proud of this accomplishment, it also serves to show the need for similar programs throughout the other districts on the reservation. We consider our programs to be pilot programs, and it is our hope that, going forward, we will have the resources to implement similar programs throughout the Nation. 

Each after-school session is made up of lessons in math, reading, writing, composition, STEM lessons, tribal culture and tradition, art-and-crafts, and play time. Our students cannot wait to get to the program, and they always hate to leave. Each day, we serve a healthy and delicious meal and snack, prepared according to USDA guidelines to promote healthy. In an area where access to resources like nutritious food and educational services are so limited, our program is vital to the continued growth and health of Tohono O’odham youth.

Your help in making this program a success is also vital, and all of us at NAAF - the staff, volunteers, kids, and parents involved in the program - thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts. You are helping us to make a real difference in a beautiful place with so much to offer, and so many challenges to overcome. Together we can help the Tohono O’odham Nation to thrive as it should!

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