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Subject:  NEWS RELEASE: Native American Grant Awarded to Franciscan University Program

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Franciscan University of Steubenville
Marketing and Communications
Contact: Tom Sofio
740-284-5893, tsofio@franciscan.edu
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
For Immediate Release

Franciscan University Program Awarded $80,000 Grant From USCCB
Project will address suicide among Native American youth living on reservations.                

STEUBENVILLE, OH—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has awarded Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Master of Catholic Leadership Program an $80,000 grant to address suicide among Native American youth living on reservations. “It’s a pro-life issue,” said Dr. Tiffany Boury, director of the Master of Catholic Leadership. “Suicide is ongoing in reservations, and Franciscan University can enter this dialogue in search of a solution.”
Contributors to the project will include 4PM Media, Father Michael Carson of the USCCB’s Cultural Diversity in the Church Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, reservation subject experts, and several Franciscan University professors.
The two-year project will incorporate a documentary developed by 4PM Media, a speaker series, and a curriculum for community outreach and the classroom. “The message of the film is one of belonging and hope,” said Dan Johnson, creative director at 4PM Media. “It’s about bolstering the youths’ identity both as children of God and of their rich and beautiful culture. There’s a future full of hope for them, and this film allows the Native American peoples’ voice to lead each other, shining a light out of the darkness they experience, and walking together through it.”
Native American suicide has spiked since 1999, with increases of 139% and 71% for Native American women and men, respectively, according to an analysis last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The project will include work with the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and St. Michael Indian School on the Navajo reservation in St. Michael, Arizona, according to Boury. Retired Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe and the first Native American archbishop, said he is in “full support” of the project, calling this a “pro-life issue that needs the attention of the resources of the Church.” Production on the documentary is slated to be completed by January 2021 and the project launched in spring 2021.  



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