BY COMMUNITY, FOR COMMUNITY
FIVE YEARS TOGETHER
The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) is at the heart of Portland’s Native American community, comprised of more than 40,000 Native American/Alaska Native people. Founded in 1974, NAYA provides culturally specific services and programing to youth, families, and elders. It’s a safe space for youth and families to connect to their heritage through culture, family, and community—directly serving 2,300 participants and impacting 10,000 individuals within the community annually.
As SVP and NAYA wrap up our five-year partnership, both organizations can look back and reflect on the mutual growth experienced as a result. When the partnership began during the fall of 2013, we were focused on growing NAYA’s early childhood programs, building the organization’s impact measurement and evaluation capacity, developing a marketing strategy and a plan for increasing revenue.
In 2015, NAYA faced the challenge of losing their Executive Director, which shifted priorities for the organization and partnership. Given their Board’s commitment to transparency, collaboration and capacity building, we remained invested in the organization with the mutual goal of organizational stability through the period of transition. NAYA launched a national search for a new Executive Director, a process in which SVP was honored to participate. One year later, NAYA welcomed new Executive Director, Paul Lumley, who has proven to be a great leader for NAYA and valued collaborator with SVP.
Under Paul’s leadership, new goals were developed around organizational infrastructure and real estate, fiscal and financial systems management, marketing and communications, as well as HR policies and systems. e paused the planned expansion of early childhood education programs in order to focus on overall organizational health. While the partnership focus evolved in order to to adapt to the new circumstances, as venture philanthropists, SVP remained steadfast in our commitment to supporting NAYA’s strong programming and credibility in serving Portland’s Native community.
Former SVP Lead Partner for NAYA, Rebecca Brown Schroeder states: “The long history of trauma and resulting poverty for many Native Americans has led to some of the deepest and most protracted disparities in our community. While NAYA’s plans to reach several hundred more children each year with their high touch services will only scratch the surface of the need, SVP has been uniquely poised to help them change the narrative of what’s possible for Native American children. NAYA’s multigenerational approach has tremendous potential to become a beacon for the nation. And the culturally-responsive model of each aspect of their continuum of services can be replicated by other service providers. The organization’s commitment to expand their capacity to influence key decision makers opens the door to broaden their impact well beyond the families who receive direct services, thus really putting the momentum on the wheel toward reaching every child who is currently underserved. SVP has been a key partner in helping NAYA get to this critical stage in planning for sustainable programming to transform what’s possible for Native American children and families in our community.”
PROVING AND IMPROVING IMPACT
In 2015, NAYA participated in SVP’s Project Impact Cohort, an evaluation of NAYA’s Head Start Programs serving 32 Native-identified children and their families in two classrooms at PPS and OCDC. While anecdotal feedback had been collected, the Project Impact Study offered the opportunity to rigorously analyze the intended and unintended impacts of early childhood programming, by gathering qualitative and quantitative data from key stakeholders, including staff, community partners, and parents.
The Project Impact Report provided results that reinforced NAYA’s value-add for families and children in the Native American community, as well as identified areas for improvement and expansion. The evaluation showed that NAYA Head Start’s culturally specific education not only reinforces a positive sense of cultural identity and belonging for children, but also extends to their parents and families.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NAYA AND SVP
Over the years NAYA’s transparency, feedback, and investment in our partnership enabled SVP to learn about the unique value of NAYA’s culturally specific model as well as push SVP to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion, ensuring it is integral to our mission and early childhood goal.
In Paul Lumley’s reflection on our partnership, he expressed an appreciation for the help, guidance, and expertise that was provided and felt SVP was able to offer the right people, for the right job, at the right time. And, while the engagement with SVP has officially come to a close, a cohort of SVP Partners will continue to be involved with NAYA, with monthly “breakfast club” meetings and ongoing support in NAYA’s growth and development.
NAYA remains the leading nonprofit providing culturally-specific programs serving Native American community in the Portland metro area. Their participation in the newly formed Early Childhood Equity Advocacy Coalition is important as the group is building momentum. It is now well-positioned to influence an investment of significant resources towards culturally-specific early childhood programs in the 2019 legislative session. We remain strong partners, and are eager to see how NAYA continues to serve as a leader, provider of services and advocate for children and families in our community over the years ahead!