In this model, the Center is funded externally by agencies such as EPA, NIH, etc. Tribal Environmental Programs discuss environmental health needs with the Center. This could be requests for research help, sample analyses, data interpretation and/or training. Capacity and resources are shared among participants within the Network. The Center reaches out to the Network to match capacity and resources to the need. Broader impacts are an increase awareness within the youth of the participating Native communities that this science is relevant to their People and are recruited into college tracks that lead to environmental health careers
This NEHR Network model offers great potential and flexibility in addressing pressing Native research and risk assessment needs. Namely, through the Center, individual projects that would be difficult to fund as individual, stand alone proposals, make up a much larger portfolio that could be more attractive to funding institutions, such as EPA, NIH, etc. The advantage of this approach would be to:
- Involve young, aspiring Native scientists in fundamental environmental health research to which they can draw strong cultural connections, and hence “ownership”;
- Ensure that the team of researchers have compatible cultural backgrounds as the study community, in order to rapidly build the trust essential for an effective partnership and produce a high profile set of peer role models that could increase the enrollment of Native students from the target community into environmental health–‐related graduate tracks, while at the same time, effectively assessing the environmental health needs of a given Native community; and
- Encourage widespread enthusiastic support with the tribal community as a whole. It easily accommodates different needs and cultural approaches to individual tribal environmental health research and priority setting needs. It efficiently identifies needs and through sharing of Center resources. It can act as not only a financial resource for tribes, but a technical one as well, by lending expertise in helping design the various proposed research projects, risk assessments and available data.