New Mexico is home to the fourth largest Native American population in the United States. Far too often, Native American students have not had the opportunity to access schools that effectively support Native American identity, culture, language, college preparation, and community. Schools with high Native American student populations have historically set alarmingly disconnected expectations for their students. This pattern has been allowed to continue for decades - a cycle that the NACA-Inspired Schools Network (NISN) is determined to change. This effort will recruit school leaders from across the state and country to develop a network of schools providing rigorous academic curriculum aimed at college preparation while promoting Native American culture, identity, and community investment. The project will include fellowships, leadership training, technical assistance, and ongoing support in establishing schools - with the effort culminating in 10 NISN schools, based on the NACA community led-design model, by 2017.

About the native American community academy (NACA)

In 2006, the Native American Community Academy (NACA) launched as a community-led school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is the first urban charter school specifically focused on increasing the number of Native American students who choose the path of college - many as the first person in their family. By using a culturally-competent model, NACA students establish their path toward success.

Since inception, NACA grew from a middle school, then added a high school, and has now graduated three senior classes. Of graduates, 90-95% of were accepted to colleges and universities, with Yale, Brown, Cornell, University of New Mexico, and Princeton among the 45 higher education institutions extending invitations. The school has been recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals as a Breakthrough School, among other notable commendations, and has received early growth capital to identify “what works” and share best practices.

NACA’s student body is diverse with many cultural and ethnic backgrounds represented, including students from more than 60 different tribes. NACA integrates culture, wellness, language, community, family, and preparation for college into each child’s education, which integrates partnership with families and the larger NACA community.

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outcomes of the naca-inspired schools network (NISN)

  • Launch 10 schools (charter or grant) designed to serve Native American students so that they are academically prepared for college, secure in their identity, and healthy.
  • Cast a new vision for Native American education and create choice and options among Native American communities so that students have access to an excellent and relevant education.
  • Establish a Network that works with public education entities, BIE Tribal Departments of Education, and tribes to improve the current state of Native American education in our country.
  • Increase the number of Native American students who will seek a college education.
  • Preserve the values, traditions, culture, and languages of Native American communities.
  • Identify and support the strongest school leaders to high need areas to serve Native American students, families, and communities.
  • Assist Leadership Fellows in mastering and demonstrating NISN's five outcome-driven learning strands: Community Transformation, Curriculum and Instruction, Operations and Management, Leadership in Indigenous Education, and Core Values and Culture.
This is a chance to revitalize community and culture, foster
cultural competence, and create lasting positive change.
— Kayla Begay (Diné), NISN Fellow and Founder of the Dził Dit Ł'ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance (DEAP) in Navajo, NM

Request for Proposals for Master Plan

Click the link above to view our Request for Proposal for the NISN Master Plan, 9/5/2017.