Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $500,000)
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska (PTN) is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with a 15-county service delivery area covering parts of eastern Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa. PTN has identified the need for enhanced services in the areas of positive youth development, substance use, suicide prevention, and community engagement. PTN believes that it is important to provide preventative services to American Indian/Alaska Native youth before they reach high school to reduce the risk of substance use and suicidal behavior as well as services to youth struggling with these issues. The Ponca Tribe seeks to implement Project Venture, a culturally based, experiential learning curriculum that is recognized as an evidence-based program by SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Practices, and the use of the 40-Developmental Assets Survey and the Casey Life Skills Assessment, two evidence-supported surveys addressing the needs of adolescents and young adults. Project Venture-based youth groups will be held weekly as well as monthly outdoor events for youth ages 8–14. Groups focused on service learning and the 40-Developmental Assets will be held monthly for youth ages 14–18. Project staff will provide support for young adults ages 14–24 based on the needs identified through the Casey Life Skills Assessment. Community engagement will take place in the form of project awareness campaigns as well as monthly family education nights that will be held to educate youth, families, communities, and service providers to inform culturally appropriate approaches to addressing the issues of substance use and suicide prevention. Program staff will work closely with the Ponca Transportation Department, the Ponca Culture Department, and the Ponca Behavioral Health Program to provide accessible, culturally informed, and comprehensive services to the youth participating with this project.