Leadership, Entrepreneurial, and Apprenticeship Development (LEAD) is Native American Youth and Family Center’s premier leadership program. Participants have the opportunity to take part in a year-long curriculum that develops leadership and professional skills. Networks and relationships are deepened in monthly trainings and workshops as cohorts expand their ties to community and each other by learning from Native professionals different styles of leadership, community organizing, communication, advocacy, fundraising and organizational management.

LEAD professionals are the future leaders in Oregon who will advocate for the improved lives of Native American children and families. Participating in a culturally relevant experience, LEAD participants work closely with a mentor and have hands-on learning experiences that can be applied to important work done in our community.

For more information, visit the LEAD website.


Oregon LEAD Community Initiative 2016

One in every five children in the Multnomah County child welfare system is Native American – a rate 24 times higher than White children.

After being removed from their homes, children wait in the child welfare office for an average of two hours before placement. They often have few to no personal belongings with them.  Often placed in non-Native homes and detached from their culture. Native youth are more likely to age out of foster care, experience homelessness, drop out of high school, fail to obtain a diploma, and experience mental health and wellness issues at disproportionate rates. Our community has come together since time immemorial to identify priorities, solve problems and create positive change for our people.

Our Solution: Native Hugs Project

We aim to provide over 150 Native American ICWA foster children with their very own “Native Hug”, a hand woven scarf with Sacred Medicines (Sage, Sweetgrass, etc.) enclosed. The scarves are a physical symbol that reinforces their culture and community embraces them. We also aim to create 75 “Care Bags” filled with essential age-appropriate items.

For this we need your help…

Join the movement!

Here are ways you and your family/friends can participate with the Native Hugs Project

Help make “Native Hugs”

  • Make an In-Kind Donation
    • Medicine: Sage, Cedar, Sweet Grass, etc.
    • Pendleton style material/fabric
  • Sew a Hug together
    • Contact us for more information

Help us fill our “Care Bags”

  • Essential: non-perishable snacks; books, journals or coloring books; markers, pens or color pencils/crayons; toothbrushes and toothpaste (non-fluoride for under age 4); flashlights (including batteries) and nightlights
  • Toys: stuffed animals, balls, cars, dolls, memory card games, small Lego sets, paper airplane kits, headphones, mp3 players, etc.,
  • Arts & Crafts:  bead sets, pens, crayons or colored pencils, stamp and ink pads, stickers, mad libs, playing cards, word searches, etc.
  • Hygiene: hairbrush/comb, Band-Aids, socks, deodorant, hair accessories, nail polish, feminine products in a discrete case, lip balm, compact mirror
  • Other: blankets, sippy cups, books, journals and/or drawing pad, water bottles, watches, foldable nylon bags, sunglasses, small photo albums, gift cards

Join us at our Community Events


Gifting & Blessing Ceremony 

More information coming soon

Make a Donation

  • With Debit/Credit Card below
  • Make Checks Payable to “Coalition of Communities of Color” with "Native Hugs" in the subject line
  • Contact us for other ways to contribute

Help spread the word

  • Like us on Facebook at Native Hugs
  • Share this project with friends and family
  • Talk about the issue of Native Americans youth in the foster care system with your community

For more information please contact us at: jrlilly@nayapdx.org