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My Brother's Keeper

Native American Program Spotlight: Salamanca

We featured this MBK Native American Program spotlight in our March 2022 newsletter.

Salamanca City School District recently launched the A.C.E. Mentoring Program for Indigenous males in grades 6 through 12.

The acronym A.C.E. stands for:
A = being an Asset to the community
C = Contributing to the sustainability of the community
E = Exemplifying one’s best self.

Led by Karina Flagg, Mentor Coordinator, and Don “Flip” White, Mentor Consultant, the A.C.E. Mentoring Program is organized through the My Brother’s Keeper Native American Program grant offered by the New York State Education Department. The goals of the grant are to provide culturally centered interactions and role modeling in an effort to increase academic achievement and college/career readiness for Indigenous male youth.

Organized in collaboration with the Seneca Nation, A.C.E. is providing positive community role models for native male youth. According to Flagg, “This is a new program designed to match native students with a community member who can identify and prioritize their best interests. We have great community members and we want and need them to become these amazing students’ mentors.”
“We have a growing group of people who have been oriented through the A.C.E. Mentoring Program and have become a friend, coach, and guide,” added White, while noting, “The key investment is the mentor’s time…time and caring.” White stressed that a culturally centered program has advantages, as it enables youth to participate in group activities like learning how to drum and sing with the Old Bridge Singers, or in other words, to do those things most of us take a deep interest in.

“These group activities are important for our young people to realize and meet these ‘A.C.E.’ community members,” continued Flagg. "For most of the youth, they were initially hesitant but after a while, they were excited to join in the songs.”

The program allows the mentors and mentees to meet for one hour each week. Each mentor and mentee relationship is unique, and the program offers a wide variety of opportunities to build a positive, lasting relationship and trust.

Upcoming group events include Indigenous Carving Techniques with Hayden Haynes, Indigenous Themed Board Games with Dallas Hoag, Native Leatherworking with Cliff Redeye, Indigenous Fashion and Bead Working with Breann “Breezy” Crouse, Gawasa’ with Kory Dowdy, and Cooke’n with Culture hosted by Andrea Cooke.