Matt Morton speaks at the fourth annual NAYA Family Center Gala, held at the Portland Art Museum in 2007.


Only 34 percent of Native American students in Portland Public Schools graduate within four years. It’s a number that Matt Morton—board chair for the Native American Youth and Family Center, or NAYA, a 35-year-old advocacy and resource center for Portland’s nearly 38,000 Native Americans—takes personally.

In 2006, NAYA—which has seen its annual budget grow from $250,000 to $8 million in the past seven years—established a housing department that has provided opportunities for dozens of Native Americans to become homeowners. And four years ago, the center created a Summer Institute that offers high school students the chance to earn college credit by taking college-level courses. Today, 90 percent of students who complete the Summer Institute graduate from high school on time; 92 percent go on to college. Those are figures Morton should take personally, too. Learn more about NAYA with our web exclusive slideshow.

This article appeared in the November 2009 issue of Portland Monthly Magazine.

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