Native American Academic Summer Program

by Native American Advancement Foundation
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Native American Academic Summer Program
Mezmerize Ready for New School Year
Mezmerize Ready for New School Year

Hello Friends,

We hope you are having a beautiful end of summer and beginning of the new school year! The monsoons have been generous this year in the Sonoran Desert. Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF)'s outdoor learning classroom: Ruth's Garden or Ruth's Oidag is happy and hydrated.

This summer, NAAF hosted COVID-19 safe sessions of Bahidaj Harvest Camp! The saguaro cactus, or ha:san in Tohono O'odham language, is the most recognizable and beloved symbol of the Sonoran Desert. In Tohono O'odham culture, late June and early July when ha:sañ blooms and fruits is the beginning of the new year. To celebrate a new year and teach Tohono O'odham language, culture, ecology and food systems, NAAF held Bahidaj (ha:sañ fruit) Harvest Camp for small groups of students. Multiple sessions were held over six weeks, to keep students within their family/relative groups for Center for Disease Control and Prevention precautions. This camp is the core of integrated learning: a combination of ecology and STEM skills with traditional culture---and a great time!

This summer, NAAF supported an incredible group of young people called We R1 Basketball Team, representing the western side of the Tohono O'odham Nation at the national Native American Basketball Invitation and Youth Summit (NABI), held in Phoenix, AZ from July 11-17. Young people participated in sports and health/wellness activities and were guests at the Arizona Diamondbacks' Native American Recognition Night. With the NAAF Student Services team, the players visited several colleges and attended financial aid training. Students participated at jr. high and high school level events.

Through the summer, NAAF educators have been hard at work planning the new academic year, working with regional schools and the Tohono O'odham Nation Department of Education on COVID-19 protocols. We are creating more methods to facilitate student success, as digital learning becomes de rigeur in our remote geography. The GuVo Community Remote Learning Center (RLC) has expanded education and support services to satellite locations in GuVo District and the western side of the Tohono O'odham Nation. We are collaborating with diverse partners for academic and enrichment opportunities for students, ages preschool to adult, including music, early reading, adult literacy, and post-secondary education preparation.

We are excited to share our new academic and cultural programming for the 2021-2022 School Year. And on behalf of students and their families in GuVo District, Tohono O'odham Nation: we thank YOU.

S'apo and Good Health

We R1 Basketball Team, Western TON
We R1 Basketball Team, Western TON
Bahidaj (Ha:san or saguaro fruit) Harvest Team
Bahidaj (Ha:san or saguaro fruit) Harvest Team
Bahidaj Harvest Sunset
Bahidaj Harvest Sunset
Close up of Bahidaj Fruit
Close up of Bahidaj Fruit
Backpack Delivery!
Backpack Delivery!

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Connor on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Connor on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)

Greetings from Native American Advancement Foundation in GuVo District, Tohono O'odham Nation! Our team continues to be in awe of YOU and your support for students. 

For Spring 2021, the NAAF team and GuVo District student families are creating, connecting and planting new seeds for a beautiful year.

NAAF's Summer Adventure program is on pause, but we want to share our updates for the After School Program (ASP). The ASP continues to serve all children in the District (122 youth) through a direct household delivery service, 5 days a week. The remote delivery program of meals and enrichment academic, prevention and cultural education operates under Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON) executive order during COVID-19.  

Students rely on NAAF’s daily service as a vital point of contact for academic mentorship, primary prevention and cultural identity role-modeling. Selina Jesus (NAAF Sr. Director of Programs and Tribal Relations) and Adriana Fitts (NAAF Program Coordinator) lead the daily programming and are trusted mentors to GuVo District young people. The team provides academic work with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math (STEAM), art, Tohono O’odham language and culture, evidence-based prevention curriculum, family support tools and hands-on activities through packets.

For example, in February (photos) Adriana Fitts led joyous Ibdág Tas (Heart Day) projects! Providing materials via packets and videos, Addy and students worked to "Keep Your Heart Happy" in collaboration with NAAF's After School Program and the Healthy People Coalition. Addy created videos with a greeting in Tohono O'odham and English, followed by how-to videos on ibdág pana:l (heart bee), ibdág ju:kî mad (heart lady bug) and a DaVinci bridge

The GuVo Community Remote Learning Center, led by Monica Cleveland (NAAF Director of Student Services) has expanded services to the Ali Chugk community! This is the southern part of the GuVo District, close to the U.S.-Mexico border. Monica and her team provide tutoring and emotional support tools, healthy snacks, laptops and mobile internet connectivity.  The RLC  serve as vital liaisons between student families and the regional school network.

The ASP’s learning site, Ruth’s Garden has also expanded for 2021. The NAAF team and GuVo District gardeners kicked off the growing season by hosting family planting sessions. This was a beautiful way to connect families through food culture and science cycles, while maintaining social distancing. Ruth’s Garden started last year during the pandemic and is a hugely popular outdoor classroom for the ASP (photo of Aurora planing blue corn and melons).

The youth led skateboarding group, Endure have had an amazing spring (photos). They successfully secure a second grant for the skatepark and led a community clean up day. Materials were recycled as a fundraiser and families were able to show their support for the future skatepark community space.  

We look forward to sharing more in the coming months. 

S'apo ~ Thank you.

Jessenia & Damian on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Jessenia & Damian on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Talina, Xzavier & David on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Talina, Xzavier & David on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Cal on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Cal on Ibdag Tas(Heart Day)
Aurora in Ruth's Garden Family Planting Day
Aurora in Ruth's Garden Family Planting Day
Endure Skateboard Group
Endure Skateboard Group
Elijah, Endure Skateboard Group
Elijah, Endure Skateboard Group
Andre, Endure Skateboard Group
Andre, Endure Skateboard Group
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GuVo Remote Learning Center Student Supplies
GuVo Remote Learning Center Student Supplies

Thank you for your support of the After-School Program, Native American Advancement Foundation and GuVo District, Tohono O’odham Nation. This has been a challenging year and we could not have done it without you.  

With COVID-19 continuing to impact the Tohono O'odham Nation reservation at rising rates, NAAF expanded the academic After-School Program to direct delivery of program and emergency services to student households. This includes daily meals, homework tutoring, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), Tohono O'odham language and culture, and prevention (substance and suicide). Additionally, NAAF is delivering COVID-19 related basic human needs, like health care packages and groceries to district families. NAAF’s After School Program is a daily service of academic support and meal delivery for district children. And we have served a total of 13,748 meals since March!

The GuVo Remote Learning Center is up and running under Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Led by an educator and Tohono O'odham parent, the RLC is a safe space for students to receive academic tutoring, health resources and Tohono O’odham culture and language. With NAAF, the RLC provides mentoring for grade advancement, graduation, college and professional goals (photo is delivery of student support goodies, a regular service).

With your help, NAAF and the RLC have been able to deliver laptops to students and expand internet capability in GuVo District. Arizona public education platforms require laptops for student interface and internet to sustain academic progress in 2020-2021. NAAF and GuVo families prioritized narrowing the digital divide for students since summer 2020. We conducted two education technology surveys to assess student needs and access; and partnered with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and Google to create innovative solutions. A link to a short film on education during COVID-19 is included.

GuVo District Skatepark is moving from dream to reality. In 2017, GuVo young people created a skateboarding group called Endure. They presented their skatepark plan to GuVo District and Youth Councils, Tucson Skatepark Alliance and the Tony Hawk Foundation. On November 12, 2020, Endure was awarded a competitive, national level grant of $20,000.00 for skatepark construction by The Skatepark Project of the Tony Hawk Foundation and Portugal The Man, PTM Foundation. Their vision is a beautiful recreational space and the first skatepark on the Tohono O’odham Nation. NAAF and our GuVo Healthy People Coalition have prioritized this space for youth recreation, prevention and health/fitness programming.

Thank you again for your inspirational support!

Future GuVo Skatepark
Future GuVo Skatepark
Selina Jesus, NAAF Sr. Dir. of Programs & Student
Selina Jesus, NAAF Sr. Dir. of Programs & Student

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Aiden and Ha Ap'ethag (Our Wellness) Campaign
Aiden and Ha Ap'ethag (Our Wellness) Campaign

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year from GuVo District, Tohono O'odham Nation. We are honored to share highlights from the last few months. And we are ready to tackle new challenges in education. 

Remote Learning Center

COVID-19 has affected schools with the Bureau of Indian Education for many Native Nations in Arizona. To sustain K-12th grade studies, NAAF and GuVo Community established a new Remote Learning Center. Together, we welcome Monica, who developed a plan for online learning resources for all community families. A lifelong advocate for children, educators and families, Monica brings creativity and innovation to the Remote Learning Center.

Ruth's Garden

Ruth’s Garden has been inspirational in her first year! We are humbled by the support and work of our community gardeners and volunteers. These incredible gardeners of all ages gave their time during a record hot summer. They grew delicious food, planted fruit trees and desert succulents, built fences, set up poles for a walkway and made bricks with traditional Tohono O'odham methods. Gardeners cultivated beauty and made birds sing...

Health and Wellness Campaigns

Social distancing was a summer policy in Arizona and Tohono O'odham Nation. NAAF, the Healthy People Coalition and partner Arizona Complete Health held two remote wellness campaigns. In July, we all worked to #BeKind. Students participated by doing something wonderful for another person or animal. In August, we celebrated Ha-Ap’ethag (Our Well-Being). Youth participated in mind and body strength with cicwi (action and games) and stahadag (fun)! Every student received t-shirts, frisbees and prizes. They connected with each other via social media.  

Community Volunteers and Support During COVID-19

Last but far from least, a moment of gratitude. Keeping food and supplies available during COVID-19 is a major challenge. The staff of The Store took on the challenge. These beautiful people ensured food, household and personal items were accessible: Sonya, Brenda, Sydney, Raymanda, Tyler and River.

We close with applause for our indispensable volunteer drivers. These people cannot be thanked enough: Jackie, Patkie, Shani, Jaeney, Gary, Curtis and Caden.

And thanks to you, friends. Your support of NAAF and GuVo District, Tohono O'odham Nation is foundational.

Aleena & Sierra #BeKind Campaign
Aleena & Sierra #BeKind Campaign
Donovan & Fay #BeKind Campaign
Donovan & Fay #BeKind Campaign
Ariza Dom Palulu & Brandon Ha Ap'ethag Campaign
Ariza Dom Palulu & Brandon Ha Ap'ethag Campaign
Ruth's Garden Watermelon
Ruth's Garden Watermelon
Traditional O'odham Bricks
Traditional O'odham Bricks
Sunset Ruth's Garden
Sunset Ruth's Garden

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A NAAF Happy Meal
A NAAF Happy Meal

Dear Friends,

Like most of the country, the GuVo District and Tohono O'odham Nation as a whole are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the challenges that arise due to the outbreak are exacerbated by GuVo's rural and remote location. Food scarcity is an issue in the best of times, and has proven to be one of the most pressing issues GuVo currently faces during the pandemic. 

The Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF) has directed the bulk of its current efforts toward making sure that healthy meals are available to the community during these difficult times. The TON has issued a "stay-at-home" order to keep the community safe during the pandemic. Due to these important safety measures, NAAF's academic programs have been suspended until further notice. 

In the meantime, NAAF continues to operate at full capacity to serve the GuVo District and Tohono O'odham Nation during this time of great need. Care packages have been lovingly prepared and delivered to the community elders. Meals are delivered door to door every weekday to students and families that need them. On average, NAAF provides about 100 meals per day to kids in GuVo. Meals includes activities and other educational items for kids, something we call the "NAAF Happy Meal."

At this time, the Summer Adventure Program is still slated to start in June, but the date is contingent on CDC, national, and TON guidelines. Meanwhile, NAAF continues to develop our exciting new I:mig language program, and also continues to build and work our new community gardens!

All of us at NAAF thank you for your amazing support. Now more than ever, your contributions are needed, and are making a big difference in the GuVo District. 

Thank you!

The Tohono O'odham Word of the Day
The Tohono O'odham Word of the Day
Community Garden
Community Garden
Prepping care packages
Prepping care packages
Safety First!
Safety First!
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Native American Advancement Foundation

Location: Tucson, AZ - USA
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Project Leader:
Jen McCormack
Tucson, AZ United States
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