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924 Park Avenue SW Suite C, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Grant Received County Amount
Outdoor Equity Fund 2023 Bernalillo County $40,000
Total Grants Awarded $40,000

Founded in 2015, NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to transform Indigenous Education by engaging communities, building networked schools of academic excellence and cultural relevance, and serving Indigenous students so that they are secure in their identity, healthy, and holistically prepared as lifelong learners and leaders in their communities. Our work is grounded in the belief that if an educational ecosystem holistically values and integrates culture, sense of identity, relationships, and wellness, then this will lead to growth in aptitudes of social skills (empathy, cooperating, interpersonal skills) and academic behaviors (attendance, homework completion, participation), and will result in improvements in the academic mindsets of Indigenous students (belonging, belief in self, value in work). NISN believes that, in turn, our Indigenous youth are prepared to lead long-term, sustainable transformation of our communities. At the center of our approach to education is Land-Based Healing and Learning (LBHL). A LBHL approach weaves together rigorous academics and culturally-relevant educational experiences which emphasize Indigenous values, practices, and connection to the land while also equipping Indigenous youth to heal from intergenerational traumas. Through LBHL learning and experiences, youth engage traditional ecological knowledge to connect with the land and place physically, mentally, and spiritually; this connection serves as a touchstone for learning about climate change, sustainable stewardship of our lands, and the historical and contemporary policies impacting Indigenous communities—as well as how to contextualize these topics in a place-based model. The first NISN Network school, Native American Community Academy (NACA), was collaboratively designed with 150 community stakeholders and opened its doors in 2006. After NACA’s first graduating class saw 100% college acceptance and was recognized as a National Association for Secondary School Principals “Breakthrough School,” NISN was formed to scale NACA’s success in Indigenous-led, community-led education across the region. Since the founding of NISN in 2015, we have provided strategic planning and technical assistance to help launch Indigenous-led and -serving schools as part of the NISN Network. NISN also supports our schools by establishing Community Advisory Councils, which ensure community stakeholders have continued input on school curricula and programming; co-designing community-integrated governance structure for new schools; developing curricula that integrates rigorous academics, Indigenous culture, and LBHL practices; teaching professional development in LBHL approaches; and offering collaborative programming with network schools to provide Indigenous youth with rich LBHL experiences. As we grew, NISN became recognized as a leader in equitable education. For instance, in response to the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez case—which found that the state violated the educational rights of “at-risk” students, including Native American youth—we contributed three senior leaders to the NM Public Education Department to develop systemic improvements in equitable education. Today, we are proud to support seven NISN Network schools and programs in New Mexico, serving Indigenous youth from pre-K to grade 12 in the communities of Albuquerque, Shiprock, Navajo, Gallup, Las Cruces, and the Pueblo of Santa Clara.