$38 Million Grant to Support Native College Students

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American Indian College Fund logo

The American Indian College Fund recently received a five-year, $38 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to support American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

The grant, which totals $38,775,000, is the largest in the College Fund’s history.

Known as “Culture at the Heart: An Indigenous Approach to Enrollment and Retention,” the programming funded by the grant seeks to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of Indigenous students at 25 TCUs nationwide. The grant will also establish scholarship programs for students attending TCUs and who live on or near Indian reservations. 

In addition to providing direct scholarships to students, the funding will be used to create a system of institutional support within the participating TCUs to ensure student success. The College Fund stresses the importance of these systems given that data show Native American and Alaska Natives 25 and older have bachelor’s degrees at less than half the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Participating TCUs will also administer an enrollment management system that allows for collaboration by sharing data and best practices. 

“American Indian College Fund is an important supporter of, and advocate for, tens of thousands of AIAN students around the country, many of whom attend TCUs,” Ted Maple, the Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education, said in a news release. “We hope that this grant to the College Fund will enable TCUs to help even more AIAN students thrive, build meaningful careers, and become leaders in their communities.”