Native Village
Youth and Education news

Volume 2  February 2012 

Fort Lewis College grad to lead White House effort on Native American education
Condensed by Native Village

Washington DC:  In December, President Obama signed an order creating the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. The new initiative expands opportunities for Native students to learn their languages, cultures and histories.  It's hoped these opportunities will help students receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college and a career.

The director of this new effort will be William Mendoza, an Oglala Sioux tribal member. Mr. Mendoza grew up on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota. After attending Haskell Indian Nations University, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College and a master’s degree from Montana State University.

Mendoza returned to Pine Ridge to teach high school, but his desire to do more drove him to higher levels of educational leadership. Before being named director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, Mendoza directed the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Mendoza's focus is on improving Native student access to high-quality education programs, especially in the STEM fields. His alma mater, Fort Lewis College, is also focused on STEM programs. FLC is among America's top 50 colleges and universities in awarding STEM degrees to Native Americans. It also awards more bachelor’s degrees to Native students than any four-year school in America.

“We're delighted that Bill will continue to lead the Administration's efforts to expand opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all American Indian and Alaska Native students,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “His exceptional leadership in reinvigorating collaboration between federal agencies, educators and tribal leaders will be invaluable as we move forward in addressing the challenges that face our American Indian and Alaska Native students

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