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Our Strategic Partner

Image by Robert Collins

About NISN

THE NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) is building a movement of students, families, and educators to create excellent schools relevant to the communities they serve.

NISN works with fellows who are committed to Indigenous communities to establish schools in New Mexico and throughout the country that will create strong leaders who are academically prepared, secure in their identities, healthy, and ultimately transforming their communities.

Community-Led Design in the Model

NISN supports leaders in Indigenous communities to develop a network of schools providing rigorous academic curriculum aimed at college preparation while also promoting Indigenous culture, identity, and community investment.

This is not a cookie-cutter approach to schools. Each community has different assets and desires for the next generation, so fellows and schools must be in tune with what those needs are and responsive to them. 

Initial Planning & Team Development

  • At least a full year of intensive planning prior to school launch by Founder/ Principal & small start-up team

  • Having a mentor school for technical assistance and as liaison

  • Mapping out and capitalizing assets of organizations/ leaders with common vision

  • Spend significant time researching, gathering inputs from, and building partnerships with organizations doing quality work in Native education, with local businesses, and with leaders in government

Community Engagement

  • Community Advisory Council-Each group had a specific area of expertise to participate in planning and development of the school’s curriculum and programs: Wellness Philosophy, Curriculum Development, Governance Council, Family Outreach, Out of School Time /Community Partnerships.

  • Having forums and focus groups led by a full-time outreach organizer/facilitator to engage the community and parents and garner their support

Governance & Leadership

  • Integrating the community in school leadership and organization

    • NACA's leadership and organization structure explicitly integrates the community into the school’s ongoing program development and activities (e.g., Governing Council, Tribal Relations Dean, Director of Enrollment and Community Relations, Student Support Program Director, Director of OST, External Partnerships)

  • School serving as the leader in convening the community with active communication, programs, and events NACA hosts, among other events, an annual Pow-wow and Feast Day drawing over one thousand individuals to the campus on a twice-yearly basis.


  • Integrated curriculum combining culture, community, and wellness philosophy with rigorous academics

  • Curriculum Advisory Teams along with critical elements of curriculum focus

  • Advisory Program provides every student with an Advisor who is an advocate for the student and allows the students to develop a “positive relationship with an adult”

  • “Wellness Wheel” as a framework/ tool for ensuring students’ holistic wellness and growth

Program & Services

  • School as a hub for robust community partnerships for the success of students and families

  • For example, NACA works with many community partners through various programs supporting students, families, and neighborhood communities with some partners co-located or having the staff based within NACA campus

    • All programs clearly aligned with NACA’s mission and wellness philosophy

“We owe it to the history of challenges in our communities to mix best practices with deep community respect and shared vision, building schools that bring educational excellence and relevance for all Native communities.”

Kara Bobroff (Navajo/Lakota), Founding Principal of NACA and Founder of NISN

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