Native American Heritage Family Center Gala
November 11, 2011
It gives me great pride to be here tonight and celebrate Native American Heritage Month with you this evening.
Not only is Portland our largest city in Oregon – it is also the 9th largest Native American community in the United States.
Portland is home to over 380 different Tribal affiliations – and the population is growing at astonishing rates.
It is impressive to learn that Native Americans have the highest birth rate of any population in Multnomah County at 11% as compared to 2% for the white population.
Additionally 63% of Native Americans are under the age of 35. This tells us this population will only continue to grow and how important it is that we’re all here tonight to support the Native American Youth and Family Center.
I became familiar with NAYA Family Center as I looked across the state for success stories in education. We can all be proud that the NAYA Early College Academy has an 88% graduate rate and that 100% of their last two graduating classes have gone on to college is a bright spot in this community.
To understand NAYA’s intensive wraparound social service model has been repeatedly recognized by the Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition as one of the most effective Native Organizations in the country is something our entire state should be celebrating and supporting.
The Native community needs are significant, and there is still so much work to be done.
In the most recent comprehensive study released by Portland State University indicated the poverty rate for Native Americans living in Multnomah County is one of the highest in the country: more than 1 out of every 2 children live in poverty.
Organizations like NAYA Family Center need and deserve our support. When the Native American children of this community and this state thrive, the entire State succeeds. I am personally committed to seeing that happen and I hope that you will join Cylvia and I in our support this evening and give as generously as you can.
I also want to honor the significant support of Comcast, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, as well as the Portland Development Commission for being our signature sponsors for the evening.
It is great to see our corporate partners, Tribes and local economic development jurisdictions join together in support of this community’s future … our youth.