Bridging the Gap: Assessing the Needs of Native Youth in Higher Education



Sage Phillips (NACP), Kiara Ruesta (Former NACP GA) and Dr. Glenn Mitoma (Dodd Human Rights Impact) will lead this initiative to improve student life, opportunity and resources at UConn dedicated to the prospective Native community for years to come.


PART I – Assess the Needs of Local Tribal Youth

Our team will meet with tribal youth councils, groups and students to assess their needs and hopes for higher education. Our hope is to conduct open dialogue style discussion between the youth and our UCINCEE mentors. Specifically fostering an open discussion surrounding but not limited to;

  1. As Native students what do you expect of higher education?
  2. What do you need for support from the University for you to consider attending UConn?
  3. How do you envision your ideal experience at UConn to look?

We will conclude by analyzing our findings to show UConn in which areas they must improve in order to increase our Native student population and relationships with local tribal communities.


PART II – Land Re-Assessment in Collaboration with Greenhouse Studios

Using the data specific to UConn and the land it currently occupies via “Land-Grab Universities” as well as outside collections our team will work to create an exhibit showcasing the history the land has endured, coming full circle to present day. With this information and research under our belts, we will inform UConn that they must strive to acknowledge the original stewards of the land by creating equal opportunity for Native students now and to come.



The intended outcome of this project is to foster a relationship between the university, local tribal communities and the land. In doing so, we will demand an improved recruitment process for Native students, retention, and a full functioning Native American & Indigenous Cultural Center with alike resources to follow.