Philip Morris Supports Teacher Education

Feb 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-3: Distance Education, Tribal College News

At a Tribal College Teacher Training Initiative awards ceremony in October, Sinte Gleska University President Lionel Bordeaux (left) shook hands in agreement on an articulation agreement with Leech Lake Tribal College President Larry Aitken (right) while Rick Williams looked on.

Philip Morris Companies has awarded $250,000 in new grants to tribal college teacher development programs in 1998-99. Twenty colleges will receive renewed scholarship and program support, while six schools will be awarded funding to create new opportunities. Since 1995, Philip Morris has committed a total of $750,000 to strengthen programs that have provided educational access to 500 potential Native teacher candidates. The program is coordinated through the American Indian College Fund, the nonprofit scholarship and fund-raising arm of tribal colleges.

On the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Sinte Gleska University has used Philip Morris support to increase the number of secondary education teachers. Janet Routzen is one of only three certified Indian instructors at Todd County High School, the reservation’s largest high school.”It is my responsibility to be a good role model,” she said. “It is important for me and for the future of my tribe.”

Philip Morris Companies is the largest supporter of the Tribal College Teacher Training Initiative, a nationwide, grass-roots effort to graduate more Native educators from tribal colleges. Most of these colleges serve poor, isolated Indian reservations with high rates of unemployment and educational failure. “Our goal is to help strengthen Native American education by supporting teaching strategies that respect cultural values and traditions,” said Karen Brosius, director of corporate contributions, Philip Morris Companies Inc. “Studies clearly indicate that Indian students perform better in academic settings that value their culture.”

The high school dropout rate among Native Americans is higher than that of any other minority group. “Our survival depends on a good education, and Indian people are well aware of that,” said Richard Williams, an Oglala Lakota tribal member who is executive director of the American Indian College Fund. Based in Denver, Colorado, the American Indian College Fund was founded in 1986 by presidents of the U.S. tribal colleges.

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