With Land Grant Status, Tribal Colleges Gain $23 Million EndowmentNov 15th, 1994 | By jgavin | Category: 6-3: Philanthropy, Tribal College News
After three years of work, the nation’s network of tribal colleges are now officially land grant colleges. In late October, the tribal college land-grant initiative went through its final legislative stages and was signed into law by President Clinton on October 20.
The effort garnered the support of the National Association of Land-Grant Colleges, the Department of Agriculture, and a bipartisan group of twenty Congressmen and Senators as original co-sponsors.
Despite widespread support for the bill, the passage of the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 was never guaranteed.
Since its original introduction by Senator Bingaman of New Mexico in August of 1993, the land-grant bill was amended to accommodate budgetary limitations in the Department of Agriculture while at the same time achieving equitable programs in food and agricultural sciences for American On Campus Indian students. The provisions of the land-grant bill are designed to allocate the same level of resources per-student as the existing land-grant colleges receive.
There are currently about 1.4 million students at the fifty-seven “1862” colleges and approximately 100,000 students at the seventeen “1890” historically black land-grant colleges, and in aggregate they receive over $700 million annually. These institutions are located in every state, and universities and community colleges in every federal trust territory were added to the land-grant system between 1968 and 1980.
For the twenty-nine “1994” American Indian Institutions, the land-grant bill contains a onetime, $23 million endowment in lieu of a grant of land which was traditionally allocated to the 1862 institutions. Because the Department of Agriculture is under reorganization and having its budget significantly reduced, the endowment for the 1994 institutions will be allocated in five annual payments $4.6 million payments. Additionally, its legislation includes $5 million in annual extension funding, $1.7 million in institution capacity building grants, and $1.45 million in annual $50,000 payments to each 1994 institution.
With the eventual endorsement of the legislation by the Department of Agriculture, and with the approval of the co-sponsors and the Senate education leadership, the land- grant bill was attached to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization (ESEA), which passed overwhelming. As the individual land-grant had been introduced in the House but had not yet been passed, and as the ESEA bill had already passed in the House without the land-grant bill remained a rider. If it remained, the land-grant bill would pass if ESEA successfully passed.
During the conference, some members of Congress and Agriculture Committee staff wondered if the legislation, particularly the $5 million provision, duplicated existing Indian Extension Agent programs. The $5 million provision, which represented the bulk of the land-grant bill, was initially dropped.
In response to Congressional requests to address the House Agriculture Committee’s areas of concern, AIHEC representatives conducted a late night meeting to clarify the issue before the ESEA came up for a vote.
AIHEC staff pointed out that mainstream land-grant extension provisions are cooperative in nature, combining distinctly different programs and resources into a comprehensive outreach program, and Native Americans deserve the same opportunities. The demand for agricultural education on the 55 million acres of American Indian land is overwhelming, particularly with 75 percent of the land being used for agricultural and 15 percent used for forestry.
In light of these facts and other relevant information, the extension provision was reinstated, ensuring that the land-grant legislation would have the maximum positive impact which had initially envisioned. The ESEA passed both sides of Congress, and the Equity in Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 became an official law. With the 1994 institutions serving members from over 300 tribes, tribal college land-grant status represents a significant step towards a brighter future for all American Indians.