In fiscal year (FY) 2020, OJJDP introduced enhancement awards—a new category of funding opportunities that extend support for some Tribal grantees, enabling them to continue successful youth programs after initial funding expires. Available to programs funded under Purpose Area 8: Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts and Purpose Area 9: Tribal Youth Program of the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), enhancement awards bring an additional 5 years of OJJDP support.
OJJDP introduced enhancement awards after Tribal communities expressed a need for funding to support and continue newly launched youth programs. The awards give programs breathing room, allowing staff to bolster services while developing plans to sustain their efforts long term. They also give Tribes an additional 5 years to work with OJJDP training and technical assistance providers, strengthening services by building capacity or expanding program offerings. In FY 2022, OJJDP added a third category to the Purpose Area 9 awards—the Seeding Change Planning Grant—to fund a dedicated planning period for Tribes to develop strategies for improving or enhancing their youth programs.
One of the first communities to benefit from enhancement funding, the Fairbanks Native Association, received $416,030 in FY 2020 for its Youth Case Management Project. Introduced in FY 2016, the project aims to reduce chronic absenteeism, build resilience, and promote family engagement among youth in grades 7–12 at a charter school in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. The FY 2020 award has allowed the association to continue the school-based effort, providing youth with academic, social-emotional, and cultural identity support.
The grant proved timely, as it enabled the association to expand its support for students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the struggles some Native youth face. Tsi-yaa Cuny, the project’s family services coordinator, partnered with Doyon Limited, the regional Alaska Native corporation for Interior Alaska, to set up an onsite food pantry and serve students breakfast and lunch once weekly. Doyon’s contribution also supported 5 families with monthly food vouchers and provided 20 students with “hygiene backpacks” containing snacks, towels, socks, and other personal items. After the school district stopped offering regular bus service, Doyon provided an SUV so that Ms. Cuny could pick up and drop off eight students daily.
Since launching the Youth Case Management Project, the Fairbanks Native Association has sought to foster students’ academic and personal success by offering tutoring and counseling, and through cultural activities such as talking circles and beading. Plans for the 2022–23 school year include a retreat for girls and a leadership club that will support students’ emotional growth while honoring Native traditions, including dance and community service.
Information about the FY 2023 CTAS will be available on the Department of Justice’s Tribal webpage.