The Chumash people have always valued education – whether it is gaining wisdom from our elders about the tribeís centuries-old traditions or discovering the world through teachers outside the tribe. Our ancestors passed on an intellectual curiosity that has served us well throughout the years.
Our Education Committee is composed of seven elected tribal members who work with the Education Director to guide strategic educational investments in the tribeís community members. Their mission is to embrace children and families from birth through adulthood by supporting kindergarten readiness, educational attainment, and career transitions. The Education Director works closely with public and private schools to advocate for tribal students and their families.
In 1994, the Education Department began to administer a financial aid program to support tuition expenses form pre-school through college. To date, more than 300 Chumash students from 8th grade through the doctoral level have received graduate awards to recognize their academic achievement.
The tribe supports the educational attainment of students at any age by employing credentialed teachers and pairing them with community members. In addition to tutoring students in key subject areas, the teacherís coach students by helping them realize their full scholastic potential.
To stimulate lifelong learning, the Education Department offers adult workshops addressing parenting strategies, financial literacy, small business planning, gardening, and photography. The department also helps adults with GED and High School Diploma completion, as well as college planning. Family forums and educational field trips are designed for intergenerational learning in a wide variety of subjects – from substance abuse prevention to zoology.
Samala youth are emerging as social entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to society. They sell note cards and photographs at community events for the purpose of making a difference in the lives of others. Our youth have donated funds to support homeless people and animals, as well as indigenous plant restoration.
The Education Department offers academic intervention and resources to tribal students throughout the year. Students in grades K-12 may participate in summer programs focusing on academic skill building in math, reading and science.
Thanks to the revenue we generate from our business enterprises, we can now devote more resources to educating our community members and preparing them for the future.
In October 2012 the tribe opened a brand-new 5,000 square foot Education Center. It is one of 27 state-funded American Indian Education Centers in California.
In January 2013 Dr. Niki Sandoval, a tribal descendant and the tribeís Education Director, was appointed by Governor Brown to the State Board of Education. She was the first person affiliated with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to earn a doctoral degree in Education at U.C. Santa Barbara.