AT&T gives $350K to American Indian College Fund
DENVER – According to a June 30 press release, AT&T has contributed $350,000 to the American Indian College Fund to help increase the number of Native Americans with a higher education.
The release states the money is earmarked for the College Fund’s Braided Success: Fostering Native Student Success from High School to College and Career program; high school and college students in the Tohono O’odham Community College in Sells, Arizona, and the College of Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
According to the release, because only 14% of American Indians and Alaska Natives have a college degree, College Fund officials said they are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on students entering college for the first time in the fall and the persistence of those in college. “Thanks to the continued support of AT&T with a $350,000 contribution…students in the Tohono O’odham Community College…and College of Muscogee Nation…will continue to be supported in their quest for a higher education,” the release states.
It added that the College Fund created two interlocking programs with the grant to increase Native student access to higher education and success. “Braiding Support will provide $100,000 in scholarship support over the period of one year to American Indian and Alaska Native students from Oklahoma and Arizona seeking to attend a tribal college (TCU) or mainstream institution located in their home states,” the release states.
In the first three years of the program, the College of Muscogee Nation partnered with three high schools and offered three dual enrollment programs. Of the 157 Native high school student participants, 33% took college courses through the dual-enrollment program. Participants also enjoyed college visits, the release states.
It added that TOCC partnered with two high schools to launch its Students Thriving, Achieving, and Rising Together program. Thirty-eight percent of all partner high school students are served by S.T.A.R.T., and of that number, 42% of the students participated in the dual-enrollment program with TOCC, according to the release.
The result was that students who participated in the TCU’s programs graduated from high school at rates more than 20% higher than Native Americans nationally, the release states.
It also states that program managers at the TCUs are looking at ways to navigate the landscape with COVID-19, ensuring that students continue to have access to the program opportunities in a safe way to maintain the health of Native students and their communities. Program activities include college and career fairs, sponsored visits to employers to explore career opportunities with working professionals in students’ fields of interest and integrating coaching for student’s college and career success, according to the release.
College Fund President and CEO Cheryl Crazy Bull said, “AT&T is on the leading edge of engaging best practices supporting career pathways for indigenous students through its support of the College Fund’s student success programming. This partnership builds on our shared vision of helping students achieve their dreams.”
According to the release, AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. It also states that the College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. College Fund officials state that “Education is the answer” and the organization has provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $208 million since its inception. It also supports various academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited TCUs, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. For information, visit www.collegefund.org