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Kara Bobroff: Empowering Indigenous Culture in Computer Science and Environmental Health

Kara Bobroff: Empowering Indigenous Culture in Computer Science and Environmental Health

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Kara Bobroff, the executive director of One Generation. Let’s learn what’s happening at One Generation and how Kara is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Kara! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through One Generation?

Kara: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! I am proudly Diné/Lakota and thus deeply aware of profound, ongoing effects of injustice on Native American students’ education since the Boarding School Era. One Generation supports culturally responsive and rigorous education opportunities. Our initiatives include Indigitize, to engage 10,000 Native youth in computer science (CS); Dine’ Empowerment, to uplift community-led Indigenous learning and languages; and Indigenous Farm Hub, to grow healthy food and educate youth/adults on Indigenous agriculture.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Kara: I want the children of my culture and others like it to proudly wear their identities and speak their languages. I want to see youth carry the richness of Indigenous knowledge into an increasingly changing world. For example, ensuring our youth have equitable access to computer science prepares them to innovate in and improve the livelihood of Native communities, grounded in Indigenous values for the good of the community—bringing solutions that will address the holistic health of our planet. 

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Kara: We work with Native American-serving schools, districts, teachers, students, and families. Our goal is to ensure that we are grounding all learning in Indigenous knowledge and communities—that learning is land based and connected to children’s families and culture. We see Native youth thrive when they are curious, learning about the world through Indigenous world views and creating new ways of being.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Kara: This year, we co-created the first Diné (Navajo) Coding Curriculum that is relevant and community based. Students can learn and practice Diné concepts of ethics and values; computer science skills in relation to Diné language, culture, and ways of life; community action/empowerment; and reflection while learning computer science. Our farm hub provided land based learning opportunities as well as free, healthy food to more than 150 families, grown by our farmers and students. All we do is centered in Indigenous values.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Kara: Computer science is important not only for individual students, but for their communities. As one leader said, “we need our own problem solvers…we need folks in our communities who can recognize an issue and build or code something up, for our people.” Through food, we build resiliency within communities, which means lasting change in wellness and our connection to each other as people. Indigenous learning is a tool that youth uses to solve problems in their communities and create a better world.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Kara—it’s been an honor!

One Generation is led by Kara Bobroff (Diné/Lakota), executive director. Kara develops initiatives that build community-led Indigenous educational leadership and systemic change. She works on local, state, tribal, non-profit, and federal education systems to implement holistic education models that center on identity, culture, and wellness. (Nominated by Josef Scarantino from Hubspot Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 17, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Daniela Vega. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.