Colorado Voices: Ute Mountain Ute School Advances a Long-Held Dream (Ernest House Jr.) - Gates Family Foundation

A cornerstone of Gates Family Foundation’s support for educational equity is a deeply held belief in the power of partnering with communities – including those closest to students, and students themselves – to develop transformational education opportunities.

That’s why we’re so delighted that the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s long-held dream of designing, launching, and governing a school that honors Ute culture, tradition, and language is becoming a reality.

“It’s always been a dream. I remember my father always talking about: Maybe one day the Tribe could have their own school. What would that look like? How awesome and amazing that would be,” says Ernest House, Jr., a Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Member and Senior Policy Director for Keystone Policy Center.

In this Colorado Voices segment below, Ernest shares the journey from concept to reality for the Tribe’s new school, Kwiyagat Community Academy, planned to open in Fall 2021.

Last month, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe won a $2.7 million award from the Governor’s Response, Innovation, and Student Equity in Education (RISE) fund that will support the launch of Kwiyagat Community Academy.

This award represents a historic opportunity for the state of Colorado to affirm the Tribe’s right to self-determination. The entire effort, however, is the result of many partnerships between the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council, the Tribal K-12 education staff, the Native American Community Academy Inspired Schools Network, and Tribal and community members who have engaged in the school’s design.

Gates Family Foundation has been honored to support Ernest and the Keystone Policy Center to work alongside the school design team to plan Kwiyagat Community Academy since 2018.

We invite you to learn more about the school – and Ute history and culture – directly from Ernest in these Colorado Voices videos. And please join us in celebrating the Tribe’s success and Kwiyagat Community Academy’s launch in fall 2021!