News & Events

Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula Awarded Alaska Native Educational Grant

Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula (PGKP) is thrilled to announce that it has been named a recipient of an Alaska Native Educational Equity grant for 2012. The grant awards approximately $600,000 per year to PGKP for three years.  The $1.8MM grant will help support 309 students and their family members, 32 certified teachers/administrators, and 12 paraprofessionals in Nanwalek, Ninilchik, Port Graham, and Tyonek.   These latter individuals provide critical educational services to four of the underserved and predominantly Native Alaskan schools on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

The Alaska Native Education Equity Program seeks to meet the unique education needs of Alaska Natives, and to support education programs that benefit Alaska Natives. The students at PGKP certainly have unique educational needs. Because of the low population density on the peninsula, the most efficient classrooms have students from different grade levels.  Teachers are faced with the unique challenge, for example, of serving classrooms with 6th graders, 12th graders, and everyone in between.

And they are doing an excellent job.

Since the creation of PGKP in 2003, the downward educational trends previously characteristic of some of the rural schools on the Kenai Peninsula have been reversed. PGKP students have test scores above the state average, greater college awareness, increased college attendance, and national recognition. PGKP teachers empower students (most of whom are first generation college students) to achieve their personal, professional, and educational goals using curriculum and teaching techniques that are relevant to Native Alaskan students.

Executive Director of PGKP, Mike Petersen, describes some of the initiatives the grant will be supporting:

“PGKP is honored to receive an Alaska Native Education Grant.  We look forward to working with teachers, students, parents, communities and partners in achieving the goals and objectives of the grant.  Ultimately the youth will benefit from improved academic achievement, increased post-secondary awareness and access, and learn valuable leadership and life skills.  We look forward to continue offering instructional coaching to school staff, implementing four annual institutes including a middle to high school bridging institute, a leadership development institute, a career exploration institute, and a college summer institute held at the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College.  The Campus Family Support team will continue to build the Developmental Assets in youth and community.  I am expecting great things over the course of the grant period and excited to be working with everyone involved.”

Petersen acknowledges and thanks the partners in the grant, including the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Kenai Peninsula College, Native Villages of Tyonek & Port Graham, the Nanwalek IRA Council, and the Ninilchik Traditional Council.

The Alaska Native Educational Equity grant will only add to the recent financial support that PGKP has received.   In 2011 PGKP was awarded a prestigious GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant from the US Department of Education. The GEAR UP grant, which spans six years, combined with this Alaska Native Educational Equity grant, allows PGKP critical financial flexibility and, perhaps most importantly, multi-year sustainability.