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State Sen. Begay and Senator McCain Announce New Intel-AZ Science Foundation STEM Initiative for Native Americans at Navajo Code Talker Day

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In 1942, Navajo Code Talkers deployed in the Pacific Theater confounded the enemy, creating a code that proved unbreakable and helping the Allied Forces bring about the end of World War II.  Today, on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and on Navajo Code Talker Day, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. John McCain and State Sen. Carlyle Begay (LD-7), together with founding partners Intel Corporation and Cisco Systems, announced the establishment of the Code Writers Education Initiative, bringing together business, philanthropy, education and government to create a technology-based education curriculum for Arizona’s Native Americans.

Created in concert with Intel Corporation and Cisco Systems, with participation from a number of partnering organizations, SFAz’s Code Writers Education Initiative will outfit partnering K-12 schools on the Navajo Nation with distance learning technology focused on introducing computer code writing curriculum from kindergarten through high school and community college, in addition to using engaging technology subjects like robotics and cyber security to attract and teach students about the exciting opportunities available through STEM careers.

“The Code Writers Education Initiative will blow away classroom walls and bring the world’s most sophisticated learning environment to the Navajo Nation,” said Science Foundation Arizona’s STEM Network Director Ken Quartermain, Jr. “By teaching this generation computational learning, we help unleash the power of these young minds, and allow them to transform their lives, their families and their communities.”

The education initiative is aimed at attracting and retaining more Native American youth to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and eventual careers. Currently, the US is lagging in the number of STEM-trained individuals in the country’s workforce; this is just one of SFAz’s STEM education programs focused on preparing Arizona’s workforce to compete globally.

“I would like to thank all of those who are making the Code Writers Initiative a reality, especially Science Foundation Arizona and the leaders of the Navajo Nation. Just as the Navajo Code Talkers proved instrumental to victory during World War II, the new generation of Code Writers will carry on the legacy and prove instrumental to the future prosperity of their communities,” said Senator Begay. “The Navajo Nation, like the rest of the country, needs more students educated in STEM careers. The Code Writers Initiative will help provide training for Navajo students in computer technology, which will attract businesses that require a highly skilled workforce.”

“As a nation and as Arizonans, we have long celebrated the noble heritage of Navajo Code Talkers. With the Code Writers initiative, we are tying today’s generation very closely to this heritage and this past,” said William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona. “Just as their great-grandfathers were the game changers for the Allied Forces in World War II, this young generation of code writers can be the game changers for their generation.”

“Intel is pleased to support the Code Writers Initiative because we recognize the importance of continuing the Navajo Code Talkers’ legacy, and the need to provide students with quality education and technology access to reach their full potential,” said Barbara McAllister, deputy director of Intel’s Diversity in Technology Initiative.

Over the next three years, Intel will invest $250,000 per year in Chinle High School, Monument Valley High School and a third Navajo Nation high school, with which final agreements are being completed. Intel will work with SFAz to enhance computer science curriculum offerings and teacher professional development, increase student engagement and provide student-centered services such as hands-on support outside of school hours and summer bridge programs to minimize “summer brain drain.”

SFAz has garnered participation by a number of other organizations offering financial, infrastructure and equipment, technical and education support for the new program, including:

  • Navajo Nation
  • State of Arizona
  • Dine College
  • Dine Education
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Nova Corporation

To learn more about SFAz’s STEM education initiatives, visit www.sfaz.org/stem.

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Native Women to Be Honored at White House at “Champions of Change”

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The White House Announces "Champions of Change"

WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15th, the White House will honor eleven young women as “Champions of Change” who are empowering their communities. In addition to honoring these young people for their courage and contributions, the goal of the event is to inspire girls and young women to recognize their potential for leadership — as educators, advocates, peer-mentors, artists and entrepreneurs — and to appreciate that they can be leaders in their own way and in their own style.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live on September 15th at 9:30AM ET.  To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps and #ImagineHer.

Two of the women being honored in tomorrow’s ceremony are Native American.  Amanda Tachine (Navajo) from Arizona and Ashley Nicole McCray (Oglala, Sicangu Lakota, and Absentee Shawnee) from Oklahoma.  See their respective bios below and follow them on Twitter: @atachine and @ashtreemccray

Ashley McCray, Norman, Oklahoma

Ashley McCray is a Ph.D. student in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program at the University of Oklahoma, where she specializes in indigenous knowledge, environment and public health in minority communities, race, and science, and the native experience in the university. Ashley is from the Oglala and Sicangu Lakota nations and the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, where she is currently an enrolled tribal member and where she serves her tribe as archivist. Ashley works to ensure her university incorporates inclusivity and diversity in its curriculum. Her work on her own campus has helped inspire a mandatory diversity course for incoming students, and a series of diversity and inclusivity workshops facilitated throughout the school year for faculty, students, and staff.

Amanda Tachine, Tuscon, Arizona

Amanda Tachine is Navajo from Ganado, Arizona. She is Náneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii (Zuni Red Running into Water clan) born for Tl’izilani (Many Goats clan). Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tábaahí (Water’s Edge) and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Ashiihi (Salt). Amanda has led efforts in a dynamic two-tiered college access mentoring program, Native SOAR (Student Outreach, Access, and Resiliency) where Native American graduate students and staff mentor underrepresented, mostly Native American college students who also in turn provide mentorship to Native American high school students. Amanda received a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Arizona. She is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University where she hopes to continue advancing ideas and strategies for Native student success.

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