Collaborative Vision:

University of Montana and Tribal Communities Unite for $7.1 Million Native Youth POWER Initiative

The University of Montana’s Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development (Center) is fostering collaboration with Tribal communities through new grant funding from the US DHHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Office of Public Affairs (OASH-OPA). The project is entitled, Promotion of Wellness, Education & Resilience Among Native Youth (Native Youth POWER). The funding secured was $7.1 million over five years. Native Youth POWER focuses on reproductive and sexual health education for Tribal youth and their families. This collaboration includes All Nations Health Center in Missoula and Rocky Boy Health Center on the Rocky Boy's Reservation. Other key partners include the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Indigenous Health (JHU-CIH) and their faculty/staff at the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico. 

With a goal of reducing unplanned/unwanted pregnancies and preventing sexually transmitted infections, the primary focus of this project will be empowering youth through education around reproductive and sexual health. This education, guided by cultural values and practices, promotes positive youth development and advances health equity for adolescents, their families, and communities. 

“All Nations is thrilled to be partnering with the University of Montana, the Chippewa Cree tribe of Montana, and Navajo Nation on culturally appropriate reproductive education," says All Nations Health Center’s Executive Director, Skye McGinty. "Decolonizing our bodies starts with the kind of empowerment this grant will provide for Native youth and their families.” Based in Missoula, All Nations Health Center serves over 18 tribes throughout Montana.

The Power of Partnership 

The UM Center believes in the power of partnership to create positive change. Our goal is to support meaningful and engaging community-based initiatives, focusing on programming from an Indigenous lens. Each community will implement evidence-based programming to fit their unique community.

Both All Nations Health Center and Rocky Boy Health Center will implement programming within a clinical setting. Each community's programming will be based on input from all partnerships but most importantly guided by the communities.

“Focused education for this high-risk group is going to benefit their family and in turn our entire community,” explained Sandra Friede, Rocky Boy Health Center’s (RBHC) Public Health Nurse. RBHC is housed on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation and provides health and mental health care to its tribal community.

Education, Training and Skill Development

The UM Center will collaborate with each community to bolster and support Indigenous youth by providing education, training and skill development programs selected and approved by each unique community. Further, community and youth advisory boards (CABs & YABs) will be established to provide ongoing guidance and monitoring of these focus areas throughout the life of the project. The Center and JHU-CIH staff will collaborate with one another and their respective implementation sites to ensure that the selected evidence-based programs reflect and sustain community engagement and robust participation.

Each health center will be engaged in increasing awareness of this new program, and access to and utilization of adolescent-friendly supportive services. During this 6-month planning phase, each site is working on developing their local infrastructure to support the new project and have hired several new staff to implement an evidence-based program. Watch for future information on the project including the new evidence-based programming selected by each community. 

If you would like more information on the current collaboration, please do not hesitate to contact Project Director, Maria Hamm, MPH, [email protected]; Project Evaluator, Ashley Glass, MPH RN, [email protected] or Principal Investigator, Kristen Rogers, PhD, [email protected].

Want to know more about research and evaluation services offered at the Center?

Visit our web page or email [email protected] for more information.

The Center for Children, Families & Workforce Development partners with the child protection, health, educational, and judicial systems to develop educational and training resources for professionals and caregivers statewide. We also conduct research that focuses on solving problems that impact children and families, and we work to help partnering agencies with capacity building and technical assistance.

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