Program Highlights - Nick Lowery Youth Foundation

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Program Highlights

What We Do > Nation Building for Native Youth


Nation Building  for Native Youth (NBNY) is a life-changing youth empowerment program for up to 36 Native Youth ages 15-19 and adult advisors. Funded by the UPS Foundation and others, it combines historically accurate and culturally relevant content with leadership, peer mentoring and experiential learning. It integrates powerful and proven 21st century educational strategies associated with building positive, confident, responsible and empowered youth with Harvard University's Nation Building framework and cutting-edge leadership, communications, life skills, and service learning.

NBNY uses a variety of strategies to connect with all learning styles:

  • Tribal Sovereignty & Nation Building

  • Search Instituteā€²s 40 Developmental Assets

  • Experiential trust and team-building exercises

  • DiSCĀ® Behavioral Styles Inventory

  • Leadership Theory & Skills

  • Public speaking and presentations

  • Planning and decision-making exercises

  • Capstone Exercise

  • Mock Tribal Council

  • Motivational Speakers

  • Service Learning

  • On-going contact and mentoring


NBNY aims to enable Native youth to lead positive, successful lives and ultimately serve and lead their communities. Participating youth gain increased self-awareness and self-confidence, exposure to cultural and social competencies. Youth also learn about: 1) the inner workings of tribal governments, 2) effective ways to operate in the greater society while remaining consistent with their culture, and 3) ways to mobilize community resources to make a difference.

NBNY regularly receives a high 9.5+ out of ten from adult advisors and youth.
It distinguishes itself from other Native youth programs as follows:

  • Small size, high ratio of mentors to students

  • More intense and intentional than most youth conferences

  • High quality resource materials that can be used in the community

  • Focus on leadership for nation building and community development

  • Special instruction, mentoring and materials for adult advisors

  • Carefully blended multi-faceted curriculum designed and presented by professional team who are leaders in their fields

  • Participants receive continual feedback and can sense their progress and growth


  -  "I learned I need to be ready for any opportunity."
  -  "NBNY showed me I can make a difference."
   -  "It made me want to be more involved and active in my community."
   -   "The Institute helped me understand specific jobs/skills my tribe needs help with."
  -   "NBNY will help me follow the issues of our tribe and maybe in the future, I will run for the Tribal
   -   "I've gone to a lot of leadership programs before. . .this one was different. . .it was life
        changing.  I'm so glad I came!"

   -   "It was awesome!"


Up to 36 Native youth and 6-10 adult youth workers/teachers/advisors from tribes throughout the nation are eligible to attend. Eligible youths need not be A students, BUT they should be motivated and demonstrate leadership qualities, positive character traits and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. In addition, participants must:

  • Tuition is $400 per person with partial scholarships available IF youth submit the attached scholarship application.

     Students will receive room & board for 4 days, and conference materials.

  • Be accompanied by an adult chaperone/advisor who also must pay travel-related costs and be available throughout the Institute.

  • Submit an application and permission forms.

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