Fresh Tracks was inspired in 2015 by a call from President Obama for bold new programs that use the outdoors to broaden horizons for young Americans facing persistent opportunity gaps.

 

It began with a successful pilot that took two cohorts of young adults from Los Angeles and Alaska on a shared journey from southern California to the Arctic Circle. It continued with training expeditions in Washington D.C. and West Virginia and it is expanding to more regions and cities. Fresh Tracks is now poised to build upon three Obama legacies: My Brother’s Keeper, Generation Indigenous, and the desire to introduce more young Americans to the transformational power of the outdoors.

The need for programs like Fresh Tracks is real. Youth of color are some of the most severely and disproportionately impacted by systems like foster care and the justice system. They also face serious disparities in school discipline and suffer from extreme rates of violent victimization. These systems are some of the biggest drivers of the persistent inequities experienced by these youth, drastically increasing their barriers to opportunity. These root causes also reduce community cohesion. Fresh Tracks is determined to help address these opportunity gaps, to increase community cohesion, and to strengthen leadership pathways for the next generation.

 

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Fresh Tracks is a program of the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute, in partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance at The Obama Foundation and the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders.

Our three-to-five day training programs recruit diverse young leaders (ages 18-25) from urban, rural, and tribal communities for cross-cultural leadership experiences that tap into the power of the outdoors to unite and ignite, transforming personal dreams into civic action. Training expeditions are enhanced by three other components of the Fresh Tracks model: host partners, Train-the-Trainer summits, and community action plans, each of which work together to make a lasting impact on participants and their home communities.

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Fresh Tracks is excited to offer four regional training expeditions in 2018 and 2019.

Training expeditions take place in cities where we have built a relationship with a host partner. Each expedition gives diverse young leaders the cultural competency and civic engagement skills they need to drive social change in their communities. Leaders who complete a training expedition can apply to take part in a Train-the-Trainer summit, which will prepare them to mentor new participants, collaborate with host partners, and implement community action plans. Within a year, we expect that ripple effect to make a positive impact on 16,000 people in communities across the country.

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