Packard Foundation Gives $2 Million

Nov 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 11-2: Teacher Education, Tribal College News

Dramatically increasing its support of American Indian education, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has announced a $2 million grant to the nation’s tribal colleges. The gift to the American Indian College Fund is the largest donation ever received by the 10-year-old College Fund, the tribal colleges’ scholarship and fundraising arm. The Packard Foundation’s gift will support the construction of science and mathematics classroom facilities on tribal college campuses. Serving 26,000 Indian students in 12 states, these colleges have received growing, national acclaim for successfully providing education that combines accredited academics with Native culture. Tribal colleges have enjoyed educational success despite operating in unsafe, substandard facilities, according to Richard Williams, executive director of the College Fund.

“The Packard Foundation’s grant will greatly enhance learning at tribal colleges,” said Williams, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “Indian students deserve safe, up-to-date classrooms–not the trailers and condemned buildings that many tribal colleges operate in now.” The grant represents an expansion of the Los Altos, California-based Packard Foundation’s support of the tribal colleges. Since 1994, the Foundation has supported math and science programs at 11 individual institutions, as well as scholarships for tribal college graduates who are pursuing four-year degrees in math, science, and technology. In 1999, for example, Packard is providing $2.5 million in addition to its $2 million construction grant. “Without exaggeration, monies from the Packard Foundation have provided the very life-blood of our programs,” said Scott Friskics, an instructor at Fort Belknap College near Harlem, Mont. “The Packard Foundation is supporting its belief in the important role played by tribal colleges in the scientific and technical education of Native people,” said Dr. Kenneth Ford, the foundation’s director of science programs.

“We are grateful for the Packard Foundation’s recognition that tribal colleges can be successful as Indian institutions,” said Ron McNeil, president of Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, N. D. “With enrollment increasing while federal funds are decreasing, we must build on Packard’s partnership with tribal people by seeking even more support for Indian education.” McNeil also serves as chairman of the College Fund’s board of trustees. Few tribal colleges receive state funds; and federal monies are limited. In 1998, enrollments grew, but the colleges’ federal budgets remained stagnant.

The American Indian College Fund, which is based in Denver, distributed nearly $4 million in scholarships and other support to the tribal colleges in 1998. The College Fund also supported endowments and public awareness, as well as college programs in Native cultural preservation and teacher training. Fully- operating since 1989, the College Fund’s supporters include more than 200 corporations and foundations and 90,000 individuals.

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