Native Youth Leadership

Photo credit: TrimTab Media

The Native Youth Leadership Program’s (NYLP) mission is to create opportunities for Native youth to participate in, network at, and be empowered by attending the annual Bioneers Conference and world-renowned Indigenous Forum. The NYLP nurtures the identities, inherent assets, and talents of Native youth by exposing them to empowering stories of people who are making a difference in their communities and beyond.

The NYLP offers scholarships to Native youth to participate in all aspects of the Bioneers conference and Indigenous Forum as honored guests. The program also presents a three-day “Native Youth Leadership Track” with cultural arts and leadership activities tailored to the unique needs of Native American youth, including talking circles, leadership development workshops, art-making, and mentorship with Indigenous role models.

“Attending Bioneers made me realize how proud I am to be Indigenous and the ability to have an emotional, and intimate relationship with the world. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I hope to see you next year!”

– NYLP attendee


We founded the Native Youth Leadership Program in 2011 to provide Native youth with a safe space to observe, interact with, and learn from Native mentors and each other, as well as with the larger Bioneers community. We empower them with the confidence, tools, connections and skills to become leaders.

In 2019, the NYLP hosted 125 participants with generous support from our sponsors and donors who helped us to provide Native youth attendees and chaperones with transportation, lodging, healthy food and a gift bag in addition to conference registration and programming.

Photo credits, left to right: TrimTab Media, TrimTab Media, Tailinh Agoyo


The NYLP prioritizes serving Native youth in the greater Bay Area, followed by California, Western States, and beyond, contingent on funding.

The NYLP prioritizes serving Indigenous youth in the greater Bay Area, followed by California, Western States, and beyond, in that order. Considering these geographic priorities, the 2019 program met this goal. Out of the 125 participants:

  • 59% reside in the greater San Francisco Bay Area
  • 10% reside in Northern California
  • 5% reside in Central California
  • 5% reside in Southern California
  • 100% reside in the Western States
  • 82% of youth participants were high school students, 10% were college students, 3% were elementary/middle school, and 4% were graduate school students

NYLP Participants Overview


Native Youth




Tribes Represented


California Indian


Native Youth Serving Organizations and Schools


It’s essential for Native youth to have the opportunity to connect with a diverse range of Indigenous role models, as well as to connect directly with the larger movement of movements that Bioneers embodies.

Research shows that Native youth are more likely to succeed if they have: 1) a supportive system of peers and role models; 2) mentoring; and, 3) a desire to give back to their tribes and support Native communities. Each year, the NYLP works closely with cultural exemplars to guide participants in cultural activities led by positive youth and adult role models in the Indigenous Youth Art Space.

When asked what they liked best about the NYLP through an open-ended response, answers fit into five categories: the social experience, the safe space for Native youth, art, presentations and workshops, and mentors.

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