Published January 8, 2016
ATLANTA—Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez met with representatives from the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) at their headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., on Monday, Jan. 4, to discuss the possibility of restarting a BGCA facility on the Navajo Nation.
Barry Griswell from the BGCA Board of Governors welcomed the president, vice president and their staff and said he was excited about reviving the BGCA’s relationship with the Navajo Nation.
For the past seven years, Griswell along with the BGCA have been working with the Crow Creek Sioux nation to collaboratively develop a sustainable housing community. Griswell also acknowledged the BGCA’s role in working alongside the Navajo Housing Authority in developing the Nageezi House in Nageezi, N.M.
“We have a commitment to Native American services from the BGCA. In 2015, we hosted the first National Native Summit,” Griswell said. “We were able to assess that BGCA has an 85% satisfaction rate through our Native Services Unit.”
President Begaye said he is familiar with the work of the BGCA and that he is looking to build on the possibility of bringing the clubs back to the Navajo Nation.
“We value these types of partnerships. We want to be fully engaged and would like to move forward in more of a government-to-government relationship,” he said. “We like the technical advice and training the BGCA provides and we are looking forward structuring a relationship that is beneficial on both ends.”
Of the four pillars that the Begaye-Nez administration stands on, Youth and Elders is the second pillar and one of critical importance in establishing an intergenerational connection. Vice President Nez told the BGCA representatives that he would like to explore the integration of an elderly component in some form into the possible Navajo BGCA facilities.
“We feel it’s important to engage our elders and youth together in an intergenerational concept. Of the 110 chapters on the Nation, ninety percent have elder centers but not all have youth centers. What we want to do is challenge our communities to build facilities that are both youth and elder centers together.”
According to OPVP Executive Assistant, Yvonne Kee Billison, the Navajo Nation’s history with in the closure of seven of the Navajo Nation BGCA facilities in 2013 was directly impacted by the Nation’s non compliance in submitting A-133 single audit.
An A-133 single audit is an organization-wide audit or examination of an entity that expends $750,000 or more of Federal assistance received for its operations.
In 2013, the BGCA was situated under the Navajo Nation Office of Dine Youth (NNODY).
“NNODY received funds for three sites in FY 2011 and FY2012, however; the Navajo Nation did not complete audit A-133 which resulted in placing the program on a provisional status with regard to proposing additional funds from BGCA as well as other federal entities.”
Conversation between the BGCA and OPVP also addressed the possibility of establishing a 501c3 non-profit organization under the Navajo Nation in which all funding appropriated through the BGCA and other federal entities could be applied toward.
This would be beneficial in expediting the A-133 audit process by not requiring an audit of the entire Navajo Nation and its departments and programs but limiting the scope of the audit to the officiating non-profit entity which oversees Navajo BGCA funding and funding sources.
Billison also asked if the Navajo Nation BGCA was established as an autonomous club, would it be able to apply for Indian Health Service funding, as previously this issue became a concern because these types of requests created competition with the greater BGCA entity.
“We are very aggressive in going after funding through various agencies,” said President Begaye. “We have the capacity to go after funding as we have our own legal system, judges and police departments. We need to emphasize this. Our situation is quite different than that of the smaller tribes.”
Both President Begaye and Barry Griswell agreed that a partnership in reestablishing the BGCA on the Navajo Nation would be beneficial. The president said he can see the need for Navajo youth to be apart of an organization that is successful on a nation level.
“I also see benefits in the curriculum and strategies you have put in place as things we can use along with the structured approach you have in serving the youth on our Nation. This connection I can see as being beneficial to the Nation.”