NERDS Native Education Raising Dedicated Students

NERDS Native Education Raising Dedicated Students

Looking to our Future

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Last Update: August 18, 2014

Native Education Raising Dedicated Students, NERDS can provide at-risk, Native American youth the opportunity to remain in school, succeed, graduate and plan for their future. We serve 7th-12th graders, keeping them interested in school, current with credits, and involved with the community!

Founded: 2012 Type: citizen sector

The Problem

Native American Youth have the highest dropout rate, are least represented in college. Also, 514% higher rate of alcoholism vs. non-natives, have the highest incarceration rate, and currently 1 in 3 native women suffer a sexual assault, and 1 in 5 native young men suffer a hate crime beating. All these lead to the highest rate of teen suicide. We're also the only RACE still depicted as a Mascot where our cultural identity is being stripped daily

The Solution

Overseen by Educational Staff & ran by students for a peer-to-peer learning environment, talking circles, cultural gatherings, & interaction with positive, sober, educated role models that have "been there", who relate to overcoming adversity & teach empathy. NERDS can provide a Trademarked plan for schools or Tribes to run safe spaces as cultural learning centers. Access to tutors, computers, food, cultural growth, & an easy to follow program for education that will help reduce dropout, suicide, & addiction rates in the Native communities Nationwide. A visionary entrepreneur at 13, in 2012 my 1 NERDS club has grown to 8 & to date, NERDS has a 100% success rate in enabling students to stay in school, graduate & plan for their future.


DM a high school Junior, had 6 F's in 9th grade and 9 in 10th grade year. He failed his exit exam in 10th and was far below basic in state testing. He joined NERDS and in less than 6 months, he made up 25 credits, passed the exit exam, raised his tests by over 100 points each, and completed his 11th grade year (70 credits) with ALL passing grades raising his gpa from .077 to a 2.4. We provided BYU online makeup credits this summer for 10 students with 100% success. 3 students made up 10 credits and 2 are finishing 15. All will graduate with their class now. We were sponsored like-new computers and printers for students without them at home so they can complete homework now. We've created safe-spaces on campuses for Native students.


NERDS clubs are recognized by the UC System, now running in 4 schools, and 3 No. Calif. Tribes with interest all over California in schools and many tribes. I recently help a tribe start a Jr. NERDS club, to help students in 4-6th grade with interest at 2 other elem. sites. Summer school in 2013 helped 5 graduate that wouldn't have without us. We have helped prevent 1 suicide, 3 expulsions, 1 arrest and kept 3 in sports/on the team while preventing countless students from looking to drugs or alcohol as their path. This summer we raised over $5000.00 to allow 10 students to make up courses. We helped 1 get into Stanford and another into Boise. We assisted 4 with winning scholarships. NERDS is raising awareness of the harmful effects of Native Mascots in schools by helping to eradicate offensive imagery on teams everywhere. Recently highlighted by The Center for American Progress in DC.

Full Impact Potential

Full Potential is reaching the more than 2.1 million Native youth currently in school & the millions of Natives lacking a high school diploma! NERDS is recognized Nationally, by the Center for Native American Youth, Aspen Institute, was quoted by Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, concerning the ways Native Americans can affect change in schools. NERDS was commended by Congressman (ret.) Byron Dorgan, American Indian & Alaska Native Education Executive Director William Mendoza, and multiple other government officials for our work to improve the educational status of Native youth.

Budget: $50,000 - $100,000

Financial Sources

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Other

Sustainability Plan

Partnered with Amador Community Foundation, a recognized 501(c)(3), NERDS is also overseen by a Board of Advisors, with the ability to raise its own funding by working to convene diverse stakeholders to collaborate on important issues that affect AI/AN children. We'll be hiring a grant writer, obtaining an office staff, accepting interns & volunteers to sustain and grow NERDS in several schools that have immediate interest Nation wide.


National Congress of American Indians, President Obama with My Brother's Keeper, The Center for Native American Youth, We R Native, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education are National agencies supporting NERDS growth to each of the 566 Federally recognized tribes. 7 Tribes are requesting my help to establish a NERDS program on their Reservation and many more are only a phone call away from agreeing too. The growth would be in public schools as well private Native schools Nation wide. Yearly fees provide everything to establish and run NERDS under our trademark.

Founding Story

In 2012, while in 8th grade, I helped 2 fellow Native students raise their grades from failing to passing, allowing them to participate in graduation and enter into high school eligible to play on the football team. These students are now entering 11th grade, continue to participate in NERDS and have not failed another class. Our 1st group is shown in the video I shared called "We love our Elders", a message to let them know we hear them.

Team Explanation

Executive Board consists of Me the founder, Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown Amador Community Foundation as our Fiscal Partner to maintain donations and tax filing. Ryan Grady - Jr. in high school and my VP Dahlton Brown - Sr. Advisor from Stanford University, Class of 2015, Native American Studies with Honors in Education Each NERDS Club elects a board to run the program, under bylaws, with help from qualified hired teachers that volunteer

Team Members

June 25th, 2014

Without funding, NERDS is just a group of students in need, in cool shirts with a dream to help our peers. With funding, we have no limits. 2 years ago I helped 2 students pass 8th grade. There are 7 clubs with over 130 students involved and growing the positive work helping break despairing statistics in Indian County.
We have 15 Stanford University students living in Muwekma, the Native house on campus who are all involved in the Native community in Santa Clara County and surrounding Bay area. There is a need and interest within the Native community of the Bay Area to have NERDS...


Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change

Supplemental Information

On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):

San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, Other.

How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

The mission of NERDS is to decrease the dropout rate of Native American high school students through peer-to-peer mentoring focused on improving grades and making up required credits. By bringing together Native American youth into a positive environment, we allow them to empathize with one another and share their collective experiences as being young Native American people. This empathetic process encourages students to bond over collective experiences, so that they are empowered to succeed through the experiences of their peers. As Natives are often ignored in society, it is important for young natives to recognize that their experiences are not isolated, and that many other students are afflicted by the same social issues.



100,000.00 for operational cost plus growth to allow sustainability


Sponsor NERDS event 2/15 in return for media advertising. Shirts, bags, over 250 event programs, youtube coverage, and more!!

Tell us about your partnerships

NERDS is partnering with Native students of Stanford University in a big sib/little sib mentoring program this year to help current HS students look to college. Senator Dorgan and the Center for Native Youth are NERDS supporters and offer guidance often. UNITY and NCAI, We R Native, Nike N7, NAFOA and My Brothers Keeper, Sac. State & Cal Berkeley diversity advisors are all in constant contact with us and providing opportunities for the students.


NERDS has gained public attention and support by many influential people in Washington DC but we lack funding to get us off the ground and grow. Currently 7 clubs/150+ students with offers to make up credits to stay in high school and graduate, visit colleges, trade schools, seek resume and job skill training, cultural activities and intern for a day for Gov. Brown at the Capitol. None of these can happen without funding! Gofundme raised enough for our summer school for 10 students and we will offer NERDS shirts via online soon. We'll work community events and will keep applying for grants.

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

encouraging philanthropy, creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, building leadership skills, group play, storytelling, immersion, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, instilling courage, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

6-12, 13-17, 18-35.

Growth Tracker

Stage: Milestone 1 of 1
Impact Report
NERDS Native Education Raising Dedicated Students Impacting Calif. Native Youth and beyond
Date 06/25/14
Without funding, NERDS is just a group of students in need, in cool shirts with a dream to help our peers. With funding, we have no limits. 2 years ago I helped 2 students pass 8th grade. There are 7 clubs with over 130 students involved and growing the positive work helping break despairing statistics in Indian County.
Planning for the Future & Reaching New Tribes
Target Completion Date 05/01/15
In Progress
Summer School for 10-15 High School Students in need
In Progress
Expand New NERDS Clubs to 3 additional Tribes with Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
In Progress
NERDS Intern for Gov. Brown at Native American Heritage Day 9/2014
In Progress
Host fundraising options towards 2nd NERDS gathering with all Chapters
In Progress
Work with Diversity coordinator at Stanford, Cal Berkeley and within the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe for NERDS opportunities
Milestone 1
Planning for the Future & Reaching New Tribes

Comments & Activity

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Comments & Activity


Dahkota Brown profile img
Mon, 06/23/2014 - 18:00

NERDS was highlighted on the White House dept of Education for My Brother's Keeper and I attended the online conferences and spoke on how NERDS is helping young men of color to stay in school and look to the future.

Dahkota Brown profile img
Wed, 06/25/2014 - 01:51

Last Spring my son who was a Junior at the time was approached by the Indian Education Tutor and shortly after you and your NERDS Club (Native Education Raising Dedicated Students) for educational assistance and support. This was like a light at the end of the tunnel as my son had been struggling in school a great deal and after numerous attempts to help him get his grades up with his teachers I was not getting any assistance, no matter how hard I tried. My son is a very bright young man and I knew he could be getting much better grade, I felt like this could easily be corrected if his teachers would communicate with him and me on a more personal level. I tried phone contact and emails which were never returned promptly or at all and after that I asked to meet with his teachers which they would not meet with me either. It felt hopeless. I knew he needed night school but he wasn't old enough for it and summer school was cancelled due to lack of district funds. By that point (Junior Year) he was so far behind it was going to take a miracle.
My son came home from school at the beginning of his 4th quarter of his junior year and told me an Indian Education Tutor had met with him and that he was going to start receiving minimal assistance with his school work due to their funding but introduced him to YOU! As you can imagine this was shockingly fantastic news. Soon after my son was offered Summer School course online thanks to your hard work to raise funds and offer 5 young Native men a chance to make up credits. Not only was he able to complete one course, but if he finished quickly enough, he was going to be allowed to then make up more course which we knew he needed to do if he was going to graduate in 2014 with his class. With NERDS and YOUR help he was able to complete 3 courses. With the Indian Ed tutor, he was also set up to attend night school for the first 5 months of his senior year. His days went from 8:30am-7 or at times 9pm at night for 5 months straight to make up his credits and catch up to where he needed to be. This was accomplished thanks to YOU and your motivation with my son!
In order to graduate students must complete a certain number of community service hours which he also was still in need of but because of your NERDS Club he was able to more than satisfy that number. He attended the State Capitol with the NERDS to serve as interns for Governor Brown’s office by escorting Tribal leaders and their Nations flags throughout the day. He worked a couple full days as a Native volunteer at Chaw'se Indian Grinding Rock State Park Round House Reconstruction Project, and then worked the Indian Taco Booth at the annual Chaw'se Big Time learning to prepare Indian tacos for Native Scholarships and again at the NERDS fundraiser at school and most recently, he attended the very successful NERDS Youth Gathering at the Jackson Rancheria Event Center. All of these were great experiences that he wouldn't have had if not for your contagious enthusiasm and dedication in making the NERDS program so successful.
I know this is a lengthy letter however in order to tell our story of how the NERDS program has made such a strong impact on our family alone all of this needs to be said. I truly believe that if not for the assistance from NERDS and the Indian Education program my son who is a senior now would not have been able to graduate with his class three months from now. Before NERDS and the Indian Ed Program, my son's grades were barely passing and he was failing, now, I am very proud to say, he recently graduated on the Honor roll and ranked 22nd in his class of 144. Who could argue with that success story?
Dahkota you are a very dedicated young man! Please know that because of your continuous efforts you are changing lives and making a positive impact on those around you. I hope you are able to continue to pave a brighter future for your Native peers as it is very much needed in the community and you have shown you have the strength and commitment to lead the way.
Sincerely, thank you,
Genny Ward

Vincent Schilling profile img
Thu, 08/14/2014 - 02:29

I have had the sincere pleasure of meeting with Dahkota - He is ONLY 15! As an excellent student himself, he created NERDS - to help other students other than himself. He was selected as a Champion for Change for the Center for Native American Youth founded by Senator Dorgan - and through his efforts he has met President Obama THREE times!

As an award-winning journalist and radio host that is known in Indian Country - I (Vincent Schilling) STRONGLY recommend Changemakers donate to this cause. Our Native Youth will succeed at an accelerated rate due to the efforts of Dahkota Brown - Please help him and his non-profit org NERDS.

As a journalist and radio host - I will make sure to let the world know of your support to his efforts and what a fantastic organization changemakers is... Vincent Schilling - (Akwesasne Mohawk)