It’s never too early to learn the importance of giving back. Remember that “giving back” means helping those who have helped you, whether that is your family, elders, teachers, or other tribal members. You don’t have to give money, but just as you probably help around the house with cleaning and cooking, you can offer to help others- even your littlest siblings- to show that you are grateful for the ways they have supported you.
Black Elk said, “everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.” Your education is part of that circle. As your vision of the future unfolds, we hope you will share what you have learned with others.
Here are some ideas for giving back:
- Become a mentor to young people struggling to get an education
- Work in a career that provides a critical service to your fellow tribal members
- Start a business that brings employment to your reservation or pueblo
- Volunteer your time or resources to tribal events
- Start a community garden or a gardening class; these fresh vegetables would help the health and pocketbooks of natives in the community
- Join your Tribe’s youth council, or senior youth council if they have one (generally for students between the ages of 18-24)
- Join a tribal government committees or boards
- Join the board for a local or national Native non-profit
- Join your local Johnson O’Malley or Title VII Indian Education parent advisory committees (must be a parent/guardian of children enrolled in service area)
- Run for tribal government
- Simply be a person that lifts people up, instead of tearing them down; be the light needed in your communities.
There are also a number of ways to give back to the College Fund through time and resources. See our Staying Connected page to learn more.
This text is adapted from “Developing Your Vision While Attending College,” a series of four guides co-published by the American Indian College Fund and The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). Download your free copy here.