UPDATE: Funding cuts hit Cherokee Promise Scholarship program

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
News Writer – @cp_bbennett
08/07/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Promise Scholarship program will not accept new scholars for the 2017-18 academic year, but will continue to fully fund its 54 current scholars, Cherokee Nation Education Services officials said.

“A review of NAHSDA (Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996) rules and regulations led us to determine that we could not use NAHSDA funds in the manner used under Cherokee Promise,” Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director, stated in a letter to Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd. “Accordingly, Education Services determined that the most prudent path forward was to suspend the Cherokee Promise program for new applicants this academic year, but to continue it fully funded for students who are already in the program.”

Etheridge said the decision was born out of “uncertainty over the federal budget and consequently concern over the amount of NAHSDA funds Cherokee Nation will have in the coming budget years.”

The 98 applicants for the 2017-18 Cherokee Promise Scholarship were informed in a letter dated Aug. 2 that the program would no longer be funding new scholars “due to a reinterpretation of federal guidelines a significant portion of the scholarship package is no longer available.”

Instead, the letter informed applicants they might be eligible for the CN Undergraduate Scholarship, which awards $2,000 per semester, and would “receive notice in the coming days. Tribal officials have since clarified that each student who applies and is eligible for the scholarship would be guaranteed funds, according to CN Communications.

The letter also suggested applicants apply for the College Housing Assistance Scholarship offered by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, which awards $1,000 a semester. The deadline for that scholarship was Aug. 4, two days after the letter was sent, but has since been waived by officials for students to complete their applications.

“We are on course to have another record breaking year with the regular scholarship program,” Etheridge stated. “Because that program’s deadline is imminent, we advised new Cherokee Promise applicants as soon as possible via a letter that issued on Wednesday (Aug. 2). Through that program, we anticipate approving all 98 impacted students will receive assistance.”

According to the CN College Resources website, the original version of the Cherokee Promise Scholarship funded incoming freshman that resided within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction with a per semester scholarship of $4,600. Students must also have been attending Northeastern State University, Rogers State University or Connors State College.

Scholarship recipients were also required to live in designated campus housing, participate in Cherokee cultural programs, maintain a 2.7 GPA and fulfill community service requirements.

The Cherokee Phoenix will update this story as more information becomes available.
About the Author
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.  She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors.
 
While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college.  
 
She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department.
 
Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.
brittney-bennett@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors. While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college. She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department. Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
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