Washington, DC, May 25, 2016 –– The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY), a policy program at the Aspen Institute, is now accepting nominations and applications for its Champions for Change leadership development program. Champions for Change, inspired by a White House initiative, is an annual youth recognition program that shines a spotlight on positive stories in Indian Country, promotes hope among Native American youth, and develops young tribal, state, and national leaders.

“Being recognized as a Champion for Change connected me with other Native youth leaders across tribal nations,” said Vanessa Goodthunder, 2016 Champion for Change. “My connection to the Center for Native American Youth and their network continues to help me develop my leadership efforts.”

CNAY is now soliciting both nominations and applications directly from Native youth and community members. Tribal leaders, teachers, coaches, school administrators, parents, Native youth and others can nominate a young Native leader (ages 14-22) who is making a positive impact in their tribal or urban Indian community. CNAY will contact the nominee and invite them to submit a full application. Youth can also submit the Champions for Change application on their own without a nomination. Candidates must complete their application by November 15, 2016.

CNAY will announce the 2017 Champions class this December and will bring them to Washington, DC in February 2017 for a series of events with tribal leaders, policymakers, and other key stakeholders to be recognized for their leadership efforts. Past Champions have met with Cabinet Secretaries, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, and White House staff, among others. Following their recognition, Champions will take part in a year-long leadership development curriculum, where they’ll be exposed to new opportunities to advocate for Native youth.

“The Champions for Change program not only recognizes Native youth doing critical work in their communities, but these young people help other Native youth across the country drive a new narrative–one that focuses on the strength and resilience of our youth,” said Erik Stegman, executive director of CNAY. “We invite tribal leaders, teachers, peers, and others to identify positive youth-led work and nominate those youth for our program, so that we can lift up those youth and their incredible stories.”

Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February 2011, CNAY is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit