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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032

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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
Grantee Profiles

Laguna Division of Early Childhood

Organization Name Pueblo of Laguna Free To Grow
State New Mexico
Program Profile

The target area for this Free To Grow program is the pueblo of Laguna.  Laguna is one of 19 pueblos in the state of New Mexico.  It is the second largest pueblo in New Mexico. The Pueblo of Laguna consists of six villages -- Encinal, Laguna, Mesita, Paguate, Paraje, and Seama spread out over 560,000 acres and is located 45 miles (71 kilometers) west of Albuquerque.  Although Laguna has 8,000 tribal members, only 4,000 reside on-site in the six villages.  The pueblo is governed by 21 Council members who meet weekly to discuss matters pertaining to the tribe.  In the 1950's when uranium was discovered on the Pueblo, many of the men became miners. The uranium mine, which was operated by Anaconda Corporation, was at one time the world's largest open pit uranium mine.  Today, alcohol abuse and alcoholism are significant problems in Laguna.  In fact, statistics show that Native Americans have among the highest rates of alcohol and substance abuse in the nation.

As a Pueblo, Laguna is a self-governed, sovereign nation with its own Department of Education.  The Laguna Head Start and early Head Start programs fall under the auspices of the Early Childhood Division of the Laguna Department of Education, which serves more than 60% of Laguna children under the age of five.

Among other services, Free To Grow will provide intensive case management through in-home visits to high-risk Laguna children and families.  In-home case management works particularly well in the pueblo setting because young families can receive services without childcare and transportation concerns.  It also fits well with the sense of community within the pueblo's villages.  Another emphasis of the program will be community-wide activities to clean up vandalized areas of the villages and renovate village meeting halls.  These activities serve two purposes:  they revitalize the community and they offer young people something positive and constructive to do.

The Pueblo of Laguna Free To Grow program has partnered with the local high school's Teen Center, the Laguna Tribal Council, the State of New Mexico, the local Boys' and Girls' Club, and the University of New Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions, which is nationally recognized for its work in Native American substance abuse prevention and treatment.  Head Start had to bring the Free To Grow program to the Laguna Tribal Council for its sanction; the Council gave $20,000 to the program as a sign of their commitment to the Pueblo's children and families.  

For more information, contact Ruth Kie at (505) 552-6544 or via email at

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copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.