The College Fund Raises Over $1 Million At Anniversary GalaNov 8th, 2014 | By tcj | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
The American Indian College Fund kicked off its 25th anniversary celebration and fundraising efforts with a black tie gala that raised more than $1 million to benefit Native American education. Held October 20 at Pier Sixty in New York City, it was the largest and most successful fundraising event in the organization’s 25-year history. Funds raised at this event will help provide up to 700 scholarships for American Indian and Alaska Native students.
Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the College Fund, announced that the organization has set a goal to increase current graduation rates to 60% by 2025 at tribal colleges and universities across the country. A college preparedness program and revamping of the scholarship opportunities process are also in development. The College Fund seeks to serve 200,000 students by the year 2020, which would double the number of students served by the organization in its first 25 years. Unique efforts are underway to encourage the pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers in order to increase earning opportunities as well.
“We want to help every Native American in the communities we serve whose goal is to attain a higher education,” said Dr. Crazy Bull. “The major obstacle facing our students is a financial one. Too many Native Americans are leaving their dreams—and their potential—behind. Currently only one in 20 of our applicants can afford to go to college without financial assistance. Our scholarships help students get into institutions of higher learning and programs that set our students up for success once they are there. We can change these statistics while making a substantial impact not just on our students’ lives, but on the lives of their families and the people in their communities.”
In the past 25 years, the College Fund has awarded more than 100,000 scholarships to tens of thousands of students. In 2013 alone, the College Fund distributed nearly $6 million in scholarship and program support to help more than 4,000 students. More than 1,500 of these students were the first in their families’ histories to attend college.
As the College Fund celebrates its 25 years of service in providing Native Americans greater access to higher education, it is also looking forward to the future for ways to improve graduation rates for disadvantaged students and to build strong, prosperous tribal communities and nations. Graduation rates for Native Americans who attend tribal colleges are higher than for those who go through mainstream colleges. The College Fund is particularly focused on assisting rural, low-income students and those who are first-generation college students.
Holding the 25th anniversary event in New York City had special significance as the College Fund was established there in 1989. The event drew nearly 500 supporters from across the country. Native American entertainers welcomed guests, who also enjoyed a silent auction of Indian art and jewelry. The event also honored six student scholars who served as gala ambassadors.
Guests were treated to a special performance by Tony-award winning vocalist Idina Menzel, while VIP sponsors for the event enjoyed an after-party with the Broadway singer. Emmy-award winning television journalist, David Ushery, who co-anchors the weekend editions of NBC 4’s News 4 New York and the creator and host of The Debrief with David Ushery, served as emcee for the event.
“On behalf of the College Fund, I share my deep appreciation for the joyful celebration of the beginning of our 25th anniversary year at our New York City Gala,” said Crazy Bull. “Our Gala brought back many memories of the beginning years of the College Fund, and we had a wonderful time with old and new friends. The beauty of the event is that not only did we celebrate, we supported more scholarships for many more tribal students through the generosity of our sponsors and supporters.”
In honor of its 25th anniversary, the College Fund will also be holding gala events in Los Angeles on April 11, 2015, and in Chicago in May 2015.