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 Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes Named Acting Director of  Bureau of Indian Education 
Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, was named Acting Director of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) on March 31, 2016. Ms. Bledsoe Downes also serves as  the Deputy Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs for Policy and Economic Development (DAS-PED) in the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. She was appointed to the Obama Administration on September 2, 2014. The DAS-PED oversees the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and the Office of Self-Governance.  The BIE Director oversees the management, policies, procedures and the supervision of all Indian Education programs at the Department of the Interior. 

Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Bledsoe Downes had been since December 2013 executive director of the Indian Legal Program (ILP) at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in Tempe. She has served as director of ILP's graduate and academic programs (August 2005 to May 2010), as the ILP's interim executive director (October 2011 to October 2012), and as an ILP faculty associate since October 2012. She also served briefly as executive director of the National Native American Bar Association from October 2012 to March 2013. 

In September 2003, Ms. Bledsoe Downes joined Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano's administration as Policy Advisor for Tribal Affairs, a post she held until the following September. From June 2000 to September 2003, Ms. Bledsoe Downes served as president of Little Priest Tribal College, an institution of higher learning chartered by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska in 1996, and again from May to July 2013 as interim president. In December 1996, Ms. Bledsoe Downes was named to the Hoopa Valley Tribal Gaming Commission, an appointment she held until April 1998. 

Ms. Bledsoe Downes has been a member of the Ho-Chunk, Inc., board of directors since 2008 and a member of the Little Priest Tribal College Board of Trustees since 2012. She also served as a member of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities Advisory Board from 2002 to 2005. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences Education from Wayne State College in 1991 and a Juris Doctorate from ASU in 1994.
Acting Assistant Secretary Roberts Announces Bureau of Indian Education School Replacement Program Selections 
Acting Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts has  announced the 10 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools eligible for funding for campus-wide replacement. Publication of this list completes the process for identifying the Department's top priority schools for campus-wide replacement developed through negotiated rulemaking required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). 

The School Facilities & Construction Negotiated Rulemaking Committee established under the NCLB to develop a formula for the equitable distribution of funds to address the poor condition of many BIE-funded schools. This process included input from experts on facilities and management from within the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Deputy Assistant Secretary - Management (DAS-M) for Indian Affairs. In addition, several tribal consultations on the school construction list provided guidance in creating a process for identifying the schools in most need of replacement. 

"Providing access to a quality education is a priority for this Administration," said Acting Assistant Secretary Roberts. "Release of this school replacement list identifies academic facilities in the poorest condition that need to be replaced, and will begin to address the crisis we currently face with regard to the condition of our schools. The Department appreciates Congress's bipartisan support for improving Indian education and the condition of BIE schools."

The extensive review and selection process included an examination of all BIE-funded schools. The National Review Committee (NRC) determined eligibility for campus-wide school replacement based on factors as proposed in the NCLB Negotiated Rulemaking report: School facilities having an overall Facility Condition Index (FCI) rating of "poor," and/or are 50 years or older and educating 75 percent or more of the students in portables. Based on these criteria, 78 BIE-funded schools were eligible to be considered for campus replacement. Schools meeting the eligibility requirements were invited to submit an application to be reviewed and scored by the NRC with representatives from each of the BIE Regions with eligible schools. Of the 78 eligible schools, 53 submitted an application for replacement. 

The purpose of campus replacement funding is to provide planning, design, and construction for campus-wide school replacement. The order of school replacement will be determined by the overall condition of each school and its "shovel-readiness." In the coming weeks, Indian Affairs will inspect each of the 10 schools on the list to determine the order in which the schools will receive replacement funding. 

In addition to the School Replacement Program, the Department will provide funding to replace the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School in Bena, Minn., through the Facility Component Replacement Program. This program, which differs from the School Replacement Program, received funding for the first time since 2011 when Congress appropriated $11.9 million in FY 2016 to replace individual buildings, and will support replacement of individual facilities that do not meet standards necessary for an effective education system but may not qualify for full campus replacement. Not originally designed or constructed to house a high school, the BIE-funded Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School serves as an example of an individual structure that requires replacement to address safety and educational needs.
BIE Accepting Proposals for the 21st Century Community
Learning Centers Program
BIE is now accepting proposals for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program.   Through 21st CCLC, BIE-funded schools and dormitories are eligible to receive grants that enable them - with the assistance of community partners - to plan, implement, or expand projects that benefit the educational, health, social, cultural, and recreational needs of the students and community.  21st CCLCs provide students with the resources needed to address the academic, developmental, and social emotional issues that affect their school performance.  In addition, lifelong learning activities and literacy education programs are available for adult family members in the local school setting.  Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. MST on  Tuesday, May 31, 2016 . The application packet is available on the BIE website and can be downloaded here
First Lady Michelle Obama to Deliver Commencement Address at
Santa Fe Indian School 
As part of the White House Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Initiative,  the First Lady will deliver the high school commencement address to the Class of 2016 at Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) on May 26, 2016. Gen-I works to improve the lives of Native youth by promoting a national dialogue and programs to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. Last year, the First Lady  addressed the White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, DC.

Originally founded in 1890, as a Federal off-reservation boarding school, the Santa Fe Indian School is a BIE-funded school serving grades 7-12 and is owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Recently honored as a National Association Secondary School Breaking the Ranks Showcase School, SFIS is a leader in American Indian education and proud of its history to educate the next generation of tribal leadership. Graduates of SFIS participate in the culture of their communities and will have the skills to pursue the education and careers that will benefit them, their families, and their people. For the past five years, SFIS has had an average graduation rate of 98 percent, and over 90 percent of this year's graduating class plan to pursue a post-secondary degree.
Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute Pre-Engineer Program I-C-MARS Project Featured on University of New Mexico Public Radio 
Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), one of two post-secondary institutions operated by BIE, was featured on the University of New Mexico public radio station KUNM for its Intelligent Cooperative Multi-Agent Robotic System (I-C-MARS) project. SIPI, home to one of the largest tribal college engineering programs in the United States, received nearly $1 million from the NASA Tribal College and University Experiential Learning Opportunity (TCU-ELO) grant to allow students to work with rovers in a simulated Martian environment called a Mars Yard and to expose American Indian students to more science and math courses. To learn more about this innovative project listen here.
Bureau of Indian Affairs 2016 Spring Tribal Climate Change
 Student Photo Contest 
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has announced its 2016 Spring Tribal Climate Change Photo Contest for American Indian and Alaska Native students in grades K-12. The contest purpose is to help students understand climate change and allow them to showcase their artistic skills while expressing what is important in their culture and community. The deadline to submit photos is April 30, 2016

To enter, use a classroom or cell phone camera to take a picture of things of value in the community that climate change might affect and then include a climate caption. Photos and captions can be emailed to: 

Click here to view the 2015 Summer and Fall Tribal Climate Change Photo Contest Winners.
North Dakota State Superintendent of Public Instruction Visits
Standing Rock Community High School 
On March 22, 2016, the North Dakota State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kirsten Baesler, visited Standing Rock Community School, a BIE-funded school serving grades K-12 in Fort Yates, ND.  During her visit, Superintendent Baesler spoke to high school students on the importance of attendance and shared her experiences growing up in Flasher, ND, a small town 60 miles northwest of Fort Yates, ND.  The Standing Rock Community School staff and students expressed their appreciation by presenting Superintendent Baesler with a star quilt at the end of her visit to the school. 
L to R: Merle Bentone, ND State Indian Commission Office; Linda Lawrence, Standing Rock Community School; Kirsten Baesler, ND State Superintendent; Lucy Fredricks, ND Department of Public Instruction. 
ND State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler with Standing Rock Community High School Students.

2016 White House Student Film Festival
Call for Entries! American Indian student filmmakers grades K-12 are invited to submit short films (3 minutes or less) to the third annual White House Student Film Festival. This year's theme is "The World I Want to Live In."  The deadline to enter is July 15, 2015. Winners will have the opportunity to attend the film festival at the White House. More details on submission guidelines can be found on the White House Student Film Festival Webpage .
Bureau of Indian Education
1849 C Street NW
Washington D.C., 20240
(202) 208-6123

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