The Pathways to Possibilities Project is a comprehensive and collaborative model developed to support the successful transition of American Indian high school youth. The college preparatory model is designed to increase competency and skills in challenging subject matter, including mathematics and science, in a culturally relevant manner. This model seeks to increase the high school retention, graduation, and transition to postsecondary education of American Indian students. The project represents a partnership which includes Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), University of Minnesota, National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), Cloquet Public Schools, the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, St. Paul Public Schools, the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, Indian Education Division (CFL), American Indian Parent Committees, American Indian businesses and organizations, the Ando-Giikendaasowin Native American Math and Science Program at the General College at the University of Minnesota, and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES).
The Pathways model is based on evidence-based practices and strategies developed for high school American Indian students. This project draws upon earlier work developed in collaboration with Fond du Lac Reservation, the University of Minnesota-Institute on Community Integration (ICI), and the Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning-Indian Education (CFL) in which programs were developed stressing culturally competent practices related to postsecondary transition of American Indian high school youth. These collaborative efforts were replicated on the eleven American Indian reservations and communities in Minnesota. As a result of these efforts approximately 30 American Indian youth are now pursuing their education in a postsecondary setting. The objectives of the Pathways project encourage students to gain access to postsecondary education through the rural and urban Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College campuses. This model also draws upon successful strategies and additional practices represented by partnerships with Ando-Giikendaasowin Native American Math and Science Program at General College at the University of Minnesota, the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES), and the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) to address the academic rigors of science and math specific to the unique needs of American Indian high school students.
This comprehensive model offers urban American Indian youth in the St. Paul metropolitan area, as well as rural American Indian youth on and near the Fond du Lac reservation in northern Minnesota, opportunities to prepare for higher education and high-skill, high-wage careers. Imbedded in the model are assessment opportunities for students to measure their growth/change in such areas as self-esteem, math/science efficacy, problem-solving; learning styles, and career interests. The Pathways project includes the following components:
- Innovative programs designed to raise achievement and promote retention and graduation from high school;
- Comprehensive guidance, counseling, and testing services;
- Opportunities for students to enroll in courses at the postsecondary level;
- Partnerships between project high schools and local businesses to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to make an effective transition to career opportunities;
- Programs to encourage and assist American Indian students to work toward and gain entrance into postsecondary institutions; and
- Evaluation of program effectiveness and disseminate program results locally, statewide, and nationally.
Students from Pathways project sites have participated in service-learning projects throughout the school year addressing issues of hunger and homelessness, community development, nature preservation, American Indian education, drug and alcohol prevention, needs of the elderly, and youth mentorship.
Students have attended two summer camp experiences: the National Youth Leadership Training and the Ando-Giikendaasowin Native American Math and Science Summer Camp. The National Youth Leadership Training, from the National Youth Leadership Council, is a service-learning summer program where students develop their abilities to lead and serve in their own communities. This training involves a diverse group of students from around the country and is held in Standstone, Minnesota. The Ando-Giikendaasowin Native American Math and Science Summer Camp lets students experience science and math first-hand through direct laboratory and field experiences. This camp is held on the college campuses of the University of Minnesota and the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
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