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

Image: NAYA

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.