Little Earth’s Philosophy of Change
Little Earth of United Tribes is charting a community-wide course from entitlement to empowerment. Working together our organization and residents have boldly raised household incomes, education levels, community volunteerism, and safety. Driving this revitalization is our philosophy of change, which maintains that all Indian people deserve to dream and deserve access to the skills they need to achieve their dreams. In order for any community to undergo systemic change, certain conditions must be established to enable progress through the stages of change. Little Earth’s Philosophy of Change is a four-stage revitalization process that includes the following stages:
- Community Stability: The community must be a stable environment for children and people to grow. They must feel secure in their environment and not be inhibited from participation in community activities.
- Creating Hope: The community must believe in themselves as agents of change, and that they, personally, can make a difference. They must believe in the programs and that there is a place they can go for help.
- Fostering Growth: When the tools must be there to support taking the first step in the direction of change.
- Achievement: Self-determination is the bellwether of community revitalization and the epitome of what can be achieved through constructive engagement between community organizations, government, foundations and public safety practitioners.
Roadmap for Change: Little Earth 10 Year Plan
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In order to enact our Philosophy of Change, Little Earth, in conjunction with our residents, created a 10 Year Plan targeting specific areas of the community that most needed support. By forging programs to address these needs, we have paved the way for continued growth and creating hope in our community.
Structured in 3 phases, beginning in 2008, Little Earth’s 10 Year Plan focuses on introducing programs and solutions centered around 4 categories:
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- Family: Resolving and promoting the well-being of Little Earth Families through self-sufficiency, employment and housing services.
- Children: Providing early childhood development and education for ages 0-5.
- Youth: Creating educational and holistic youth development activities for school-aged youth in grades K-12.
- Community: Providing positive community-wide initiatives to nurture a healthy environment for the residents at Little Earth and in the surrounding East Phillips neighborhood.
Each category features an action plan comprised of targeted program strategies that provide outcomes which directly impact the plan goals.
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Nearing completion of the second phase of its visionary 10 Year Plan, our organization and residents have boldly raised household incomes, education levels, community volunteerism, and safety. Leveraging our initial achievements in Phase 1, we are close to reaching all goals for Phase 2. Building on these successes, we anticipate expanding programs and services to meet our Phase 3 goals in the coming years.
Current Status of 10 Year Plan Goals: Phase 2
|Phase 2 2011-2013 Goal||Progress|
Achieving these goals by the end of 2013 will affect the 212 households at Little Earth and beyond, for what happens here at Little Earth radiates out into the wider American Indian community.
The Future: Challenges and Solutions:
- Tribal Designation Challenges: Little Earth, as a non-tribal, non-profit organization continues to struggle with obtaining funding. Most opportunities from governmental sources are slated for federally or state recognized tribal entities. Statistics show that as of the 2010 U.S. Census there were 5.2million people in the United States who identified themselves as Native Americans. Of that population, only 22% live on reservations. 78% of this country’s American Indian population lives in urban areas off reservations, and as such has no access to the aforementioned federal and state funds traditionally reserved for tribal entities. In short, funds that are set aside for the assistance of Native Americans are not assisting the vast majority of Native Americans. Little Earth and the surrounding American Indian community are emblematic of this hurdle. Language and/or eligibility designations of how federal and state funds are allocated to this population base needs to change in order to ensure that those funds actually reach the programs and populations intended.
- Campus Expansion: Currently, Little Earth has a 500 person waiting list for available housing. There is a severe and immediate need for additional housing. The most logical solution presents itself in the way of 20+ townhomes and a mixed-use facility where the lowest level of a multi-level building is occupied by commercial vendors providing economic opportunity to the area, while the upper stories are comprised of apartments to expand the 212 units Little Earth currently offers. A mixed use facility also offers the opportunity to directly address economic issues and food desert issues that continue to be of the highest concern to our residents.
- Little Earth as a Model for Regional Expansion: The Little Earth community remains the only Native-preference HUD housing community in the nation. Yet, there are many urban areas with equally high concentrations of American Indians who face common issues as those seen at Little Earth. The American Indian populations in the cities of Denver and Phoenix are 30,786 and 43,724 respectively, while Minneapolis has an American Indian population of 25,601 people. Both of these cities have had representatives approach Little Earth and express interest in the programmatic solutions that Little Earth has pioneered. It is in both of these locations that potential new Little Earth communities should be created with the assistance of Federal, State and local governments.
Little Earth’s combined education and social programs model, cultural initiatives and economic prosperity work have provided a system of accountability and elevated expectations across the community. This holistic programmatic vision drives the community to realize self-determination and transition from generations of reliance on government programs as was propagated by the misguided Federal Policy of Relocation and Termination authored by William Brophy in 1948. It is this very concept of responsible Native-preference housing with wrap-around service programming that is replicable in American Indian communities nationwide and provides a unique, community-driven American Indian solution to a problem suffered by most urban American Indian populations.