http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgIn this 2011 photo, then-Northeastern State University freshman Jasiony Gann unpacks with the help of her mother in Haskell Hall at NSU in Tahlequah, Okla. Gann was one of the first 48 Cherokee Promise Scholarship recipients. The program is set to end in 2020. ARCHIVES
In this 2011 photo, then-Northeastern State University freshman Jasiony Gann unpacks with the help of her mother in Haskell Hall at NSU in Tahlequah, Okla. Gann was one of the first 48 Cherokee Promise Scholarship recipients. The program is set to end in 2020. ARCHIVES

Cherokee Promise Scholarship funded until 2020

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
08/28/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Aug. 15 modified the Cherokee Nation’s budget to fund current Cherokee Promise Scholars through graduation and supplement incoming freshman for the 2017-18 academic year.

The modification moved $250,000 to the tribe’s Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act budget.

“We set money back every year because some grants are matching grants,” Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor said in the Aug. 15 Education Committee meeting. “This funding has come together from funding that (CN) Education (Services) has, from the NAHASDA funding that we can use for this and the matching grants.”

Fifty-one Cherokee Promise scholars will continue to receive $4,600 per semester through graduation as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Once the last cohort graduates in 2020, the program will end and there are “no immediate future plans” for a replacement, Education Services Executive Director Ron Etheridge said.

Of the 98 freshmen who submitted a Cherokee Promise Scholarship application, 70 will receive $4,600 per semester for fall 2017-18. However, those students are not classified as Cherokee Promise scholars.

After spring 2018, those 70 students will only be eligible for up to $3,000 per semester via the $2,000 CN Undergraduate Scholarship and the $1,000 College Housing Assistance Scholarship.

The other 28 students were not eligible for the Cherokee Promise Scholarship because they don’t live within the tribe’s jurisdiction and weren’t Pell Grant eligible. However, they will receive $2,000 for the 2017-18 academic year with the CN Undergraduate Scholarship.

Confusion surrounding the Cherokee Promise Scholarship began when applicants learned via a letter dated Aug. 2 that the program would no longer fund new scholars “due to a reinterpretation of federal guidelines.” It also informed applicants to apply for other CN scholarships.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the funding cuts resulted from several factors, including an internal review and reinterpretation of NAHASDA guidelines.

“That gave us the reason to go to all the programs and re-evaluate where NAHASDA dollars were going so that we could best serve all of the Cherokees under NAHASDA funding,” he said. “Our review showed that maybe that wasn’t a proper use of the funds, and one of the first things I told my executive directors and everybody is, ‘keep me legal.’ It was before my time. It was before any of my Education (Services) folks’ time.”

Attorney General Todd Hembree said the scholarship funding was not illegal, but to be “good stewards” of CN money, tribal administration, Education Services and NAHASDA officials decided to “reprogram” the funds to “find funding that is without question.”

Treasurer Lacey Horn said administration officials were also unaware of the situation and would have had funds to cover freshman applicants if proper time had been given to go through the “legislatively required process of a budget modification request.”

The Cherokee Promise Scholarship program began in 2011, funding eligible freshman who resided within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction with a per semester scholarship of $4,600 if they attended Northeastern State University. Rogers State University and Connors State College were added as Cherokee Promise schools later.

To maintain the scholarship, recipients had to keep at least a 2.7 grade point average, complete community service hours and live with their cohort in designated campus housing. Scholars were also given on-site advisement and cultural education through Cherokee language classes and activities.

It is the latter that Jacob Chavez, a Cherokee Promise Scholar and NSU junior, said he was concerned about in light of the program being discontinued.

“I think that it is unfortunate that the program is ending because it provides opportunities for future Cherokee leaders,” he said. “The program is valuable because it helps foster both language and culture for its members. Hopefully, the Cherokee Nation realizes this importance and works to bring a similar program back in the future.”

Echoing those thoughts was 2011 Cherokee Promise Scholar Colten Boston.

“It breaks my heart to hear about the program being cancelled,” he said. “A lot of my success at college and my appreciation of my Cherokee culture came from participating in it, and it saddens me that future students won’t have the same opportunity that I had.”

Etheridge indicated he was “confident” students would still be interested in learning the culture and language in the program’s absence. “Yeah, it hurts a little bit that we’re losing that, but we’re still teaching the language in the 14 counties. I think it’s still being done. It’s just going to be done a different way. We just felt like there was a better way to utilize the funds to educate the masses.”

Throughout the program’s six-year duration, 15 out of 300 students have graduated as Cherokee Promise Scholars, Etheridge said. He said the data was skewed largely because older students did not want to continue living in college housing, as the scholarship requires.

For more information about CN scholarships, visit www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/College-Resources.
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.

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
11/21/2017 12:00 PM
SEATTLE – A newly released report highlights the challenges facing urban Native American youths in public schools and showcases seven alternative public education programs that are positively impacting these challenges. The report, “Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education,” was released Nov. 16 by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. According to a release, it tracks the history of the U.S. public education system’s relationship with Native American communities and the ongoing disparities that exist within academic achievement data for urban American Indian students, commonly referred to as “the achievement gap.” The report states that educators and administrators have worked with policy officials and the philanthropic community to reform the system to close this achievement gap, but the gap still persists for all students of color and is especially bleak for urban American Indian students. “We wanted to provide a roadmap for other urban Indigenous communities to follow on behalf of their own students,” Dr. Joe Hobot, the report’s author, said. “I hope (the report) will spark further evaluation and discussion by those involved in this arena.” The report identifies six major urban centers – Denver, Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland, Minneapolis and Los Angeles – that have high concentrations of American Indian students who attend local public schools and investigates seven alternative education programs offered to these students in each city. The report states these alternative education programs leverage traditional Indigenous culture as a means of securing academic achievement and have earned respect and widespread support from the urban American Indian communities they serve. “Education is an extremely critical area of need and attention for urban Indian communities across the country,” NUIFC Executive Director Janeen Comenote said. “The NUIFC is proud to be able to amplify the voices and practices of the phenomenal sites and schools highlighted in this critically needed work.” Edgar Villanueva, Schott Foundation for Public Education vice president and one of the report’s sponsors, said closing the achievement gap is just the beginning. “Policy leaders, philanthropic partners and community leaders must also focus beyond academic achievement to close the opportunity gaps that contribute to inequitable education outcomes,” Villanueva said. “Closing the opportunity gap is the only way we will make progress toward closing academic achievement gaps that separate most American Indian, black and Hispanic students from their white peers.” Visit <a href="http://nuifc.org" target="_blank">http://nuifc.org</a> for more information or a copy of the report.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/20/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Students from the Tahlequah area had the opportunity to learn about colleges, universities and vocational schools during the Cherokee Nation’s College and Career Night at Sequoyah School’s “The Place Where They Play” gym, with a second event planned for Nov. 30 in Vinita. “The College and Career Night was a way for us to inform students and the parents about scholarship opportunities not only available from Cherokee Nation, but from federal and state sources that they may qualify for, like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), to attend either vo-tech or college,” Jennifer Pigeon, CN finance manager and College Resources interim manager, said. With 22 representatives present from schools such as Northeastern State University, University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Pigeon said the event allowed students and their families the opportunity to learn about schools and programs. “This night is important to us so that we can help share opportunities, let families meet the various colleges that are available, any vo-techs that they might want to attend and to familiarize themselves with application processes, admission criteria. Some schools offer scholarships that are only available at their school, so this will let them know about some of those opportunities that are available,” she said. Aside from meeting school representatives, Pigeon said students also had the chance to attend higher learning-related presentations. “We are going to have a presentation from FAFSA, and then Indian Capital (Technology Center) from Tahlequah will do a presentation followed by (CN) Career Services, who will let us know what they offer to assist in that area, and then we’ll talk about colleges,” she said. CN citizen Hannah Hudgens, a Sallisaw High School senior, said although she knows what her plans for the future entail, she thought it would be good to attend to learn of tribal scholarships. “I know I want to do speech language pathology, but I was just wondering what the Cherokee Nation could help me do in terms of scholarships and giving back to my tribal heritage,” she said. She said she encourages other high school students to take “advantage” of available opportunities. “Just take advantage of the opportunities around you in terms of scholarships and just learn more about Cherokee heritage,” she said. OU College of Nursing academic advisor Dawn Johnson said she hoped to speak with students who had an interest in nursing. “We have several programs at the undergraduate level, but the one that high school students may be most interested in is what we refer to as the traditional BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) program,” she said. “This is a program where you take two years of your basic prerequisites and you could do that close to home. You could do it at OU-Norman or at another accredited school and then you would apply to the College of Nursing and you would be with us for two years.” Johnson said the event gives students the opportunity to find out that college is “accessible” regardless of career choice. “I just think this affords them an excellent opportunity to find out what opportunities are available, what scholarships, what might be the best fit for them as far as a career, but also a school,” she said. Pigeon said a second event was planned for 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center in Vinita.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/08/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s College Resource Center is hosting two College & Career Night events in November – one in Tahlequah and a second in Vinita. On Nov. 14, representatives from at least a dozen colleges and universities as well as vocational schools at 5:30 p.m. will be at Sequoyah Schools’ The Place Where They Play in Tahlequah. Visitors will receive information on CN’s college and vocational scholarships and on the Free Application for Student Aid or FAFSA. A similar event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the Craig County Fairgrounds and Community Center in Vinita, with college and university representatives as well as vocational school representatives on site. “We know it is never too early for students and their families to begin thinking about life after high school, including the scholarship and career opportunities they might have,” Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director, said. “These are important decisions for students. We believe the College & Career Night events in Tahlequah and Vinita will make the process more informative and convenient by placing all of these resources together in one setting.” Doors will open at 5 p.m. and both events are free and open to the public. Refreshments and door prizes will be available. The grand prize is a Dell laptop computer. For more information, email <a href="mailto: chrissy-marsh@cherokee.org">chrissy-marsh@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org">jennifer-pigeon@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/07/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation recently completed its “Leave a Legacy” matching campaign, which created more than $200,000 in new scholarship opportunities for Cherokee students. The campaign, launched in 2016, allocated $100,000 to match gifts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. Two recent endowments helped CNF achieve its fundraising goal. “The matching campaign has been a huge success, and we can’t thank everyone enough for the support and encouragement along the way,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “Our board of directors, (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and many council members played a huge role in helping us spread the word about this opportunity, and we are so happy to see so many people take part in creating opportunities for Cherokee students.” The Peruzzi Family Scholarship was established to honor the memory of Faye Fogleman Kircher, a longtime educator from Locust Grove. The scholarship will support a student living within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction who is enrolled full time at a four-year, post-secondary institution. The Beauchamp family of Fayetteville, Arkansas, established its fund to honor the legacy of Alan Beauchamp. The parameters of this scholarship are to be determined. At a Sept. 26 meeting, the CNF board voted unanimously to continue matching qualifying donations beyond the $100,000, as funds allow. “We know that there is no greater investment we can make than in the education of our youth, but the simple truth is that we can’t do it alone,” Tonya Rozell, CNF board president, said. “By extending the matching program, we hope to find new partners interested in honoring a legacy and creating new opportunities for Cherokee students. We are certainly more effective when we work together and combine our resources.” Anyone interested in establishing an endowment is encouraged to call Randall at (918) 207-0950 or email <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>. For more information on scholarship opportunities or to apply online, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/03/2017 04:00 PM
ADA, Okla. – Sequoyah High School’s drama department placed fourth overall in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s One-Act Play Competition on Oct. 28 on the East Central University campus. Teams were judged on their sets, crew loads in and loads out of the set, acting abilities and directing, with rules requiring the production be completed in less than 45 minutes. To qualify, the SHS drama team first competed at regionals held Oct. 6 at Oologah High School where it placed second, advancing to state. SHS senior Katelyn Morton and junior Michael Lenaburg received All-State actor awards and will receive All-State letter jackets for the achievements. “I’ve been acting under my drama mama and teacher, Mrs. (Amanda) Ray, since I started as a freshman at Sequoyah Schools. To achieve the All-State actor award as a senior is very special to me. I want to thank fellow All-State actor Michael Lenaburg, my SHS drama team and Mrs. Ray for allowing me to take part in this awesome competition,” Morton said. For more information on Sequoyah’s drama department, call 918-453-5400.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
10/31/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Current and upcoming college students seeking higher education funding can apply for several scholarships with the Cherokee Nation Foundation beginning Nov. 1. Students must visit www.cherokeenation.academicworks.com and create an account to complete the general scholarship application, which closes Jan. 31. Once completed, the system will match students to individual scholarships for which they are eligible to apply. The general application takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete and will require students to have their Certificate Degree of Indian Blood cards, copies of their most recent transcripts and contact information for personal references. Scholarships are awarded on an annual basis and selected recipients will be announced in April. More than 15 scholarships are available, with some being tailored to a specific field of study such as pottery, business, engineering or psychology. Some scholarships are also specific to the institution in which a student is enrolled such as Oklahoma State University, Rogers State University and the University of Tulsa. Each scholarship has specific requirements, including meeting a minimum grade-point-average and location of residence. The Bill Rabbit Legacy Art Scholarship is also open to Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band citizens alike. Students are encouraged to review all requirements before submitting their applications. CNF scholarships are not income-based, Whitney Dittman, Cherokee Nation Businesses public relations specialist, said. This means students will not have to produce income statements or documents relating to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA when completing their applications. CNF officials announced on Oct. 27 that the organization has raised more than $200,000 in scholarship opportunities due to its “Leave a Legacy” matching campaign. “The matching campaign has been a huge success, and we can’t thank everyone enough for the support and encouragement along the way,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “Our board of directors, (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker and many council members played a huge role in helping us spread the word about this opportunity, and we are so happy to see so many people take part in creating opportunities for Cherokee students.” The announcement follows a Sept. 26 meeting in which CNF board members voted to continue matching qualifying donations beyond $100,000, as funding allows. “We know that there is no greater investment we can make than in the education of our youth, but the simple truth is that we can’t do it alone,” Tonya Rozell, CNF board president, said. “By extending the matching program, we hope to find new partners interested in honoring a legacy and creating new opportunities for Cherokee students. We are certainly more effective when we work together and combine our resources.” CNF scholarships differ from the undergraduate and graduate scholarships offered by the tribe’s College Resource Center, which require students to complete one community service hour for every $100 received. The application for that scholarship opens Feb. 1 and can be completed at <a href="http://www.scholarships.cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.scholarships.cherokee.org</a>. For more information on CNF scholarships, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a> or call 918-207-0950.