ARISE is a broad-based partnership of elders, parents, community members and approximately 20 local organizations and agencies dedicated to the cradle to community success of Alaska Native and American Indian children and youth in Anchorage. We are a network of people committed to the success of all Alaska Native students in Anchorage, with an unshakable belief in the innate value and potential of each child and the importance of indigenous cultures in unlocking that possibility.
We are dedicated to ensuring that “From cradle to community, every Alaska Native child leads a healthy and empowered life with access to unlimited opportunities.” We’re committed to Anchorage being a community where Alaska Native children and youth get the best start possible are empowered to succeed as they move through the cycle of life to parenthood, careers and life as adults and, eventually, elders themselves.
Our goals are to ensure that that all Alaska Native children are empowered and nurtured to:
- Make successful academic transitions
- Achieve emotional, social and physical well-being
- Know who they are, their heritage and culture, and their role in the community
ARISE is a community partnership but not a stand-alone program of any one partner. Instead, ARISE partners cooperate to align existing resources like partner programs and local expertise to work more effectively, and to measure the collective impact of our differentiated efforts toward common goals. The 2012 McDowell Group study identified a lack of strategic coordination among many local programs serving Alaska Native students. ARISE is working to correct that through community engagement informed by local data.
An individual’s journey from cradle to community includes crucial benchmarks, or outcomes, that can be measured by specific indicators. These indicators will help us follow the progress of Alaska Native children and guide our efforts to support their success. For example, one outcome in the Academic focus area is “Alaska Native students attend school,” and the indicator for this is the percentage of students who attend school 90 percent of the days they are enrolled.
Alaska Native and American Indian students make up nearly 20 percent of the students in the Anchorage School District (ASD). By learning more about their experiences, and aligning existing resources, we can have an impact on more than 8,000 students in the district, plus families and children not yet in school. A focus on this particular population means we can engage with them more specifically, and marshal unique resources available to Alaska Native and American Indian students and families. Alaska Native student success is vital to Anchorage’s success and benefits everyone in our community – making this a better, stronger, and even more vibrant city. What we learn by helping Alaska Native students succeed will inform efforts to support all students’ success.
When Alaska Native/American Indian students are fully counted, their population among the students within the ASD more than doubles, growing from 4,224 to 8,550, and from 8.8 percent to 17.8 percent of the total student body. This increase comes from accurately distributing the “two or more races” category required by federal reporting, which minimizes the actual size of racial minority communities by combining all multi-racial students into one category and counting all students who report being part Latino only as Hispanic. Our count results in an over-count for the total student population, but properly recognizes how all students racially and ethnically identify, including Alaska Native students.
ARISE has a special focus on Alaska Native and American Indian students, and our vision for them is “cradle to community” success, which encompasses their trajectory from learner to leader and toddler to elder. ARISE’s focus is also broader than just school and career. We include a culture focus area, which we are working to develop outcomes for, and also a focus on social and emotional well-being. Some of our leadership council members are also participating in other initiatives such as 90% by 2020 and Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity (ANDORE) – these efforts are complementary.
The ARISE partnership has members from approximately 20 local organizations, and includes parents, Alaska Native elders, educators, researchers, and other community members. Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) employs ARISE staff person, hosts meetings, serves as the fiscal agent, and otherwise serves as the convening organization of the ARISE partnership. ARISE is comprised of a leadership council with an executive committee, outcome-specific strategic action teams (SATs), and work groups that provide analysis and support to the partnership’s efforts. An array of allies, funders and experts contribute important assistance.