LLTC Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Dec 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) president Dr. Donald Day joined President Barrack Obama, the First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders for the White House College Opportunity Day of Action. Together, they announced new initiatives to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. Participating colleges committed to building networks of colleges, creating K-16 partnerships focusing on college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The event built upon LLTC’s earlier efforts to partner with Red Lake Nation College, White Earth Community College, and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to create the Minnesota tribal college consortium in an effort to improve education for American Indian students. Specifically, they stressed the crucial and urgent issue of Ojibwe language preservation, agreed to pursue grants together, and to work on mutually beneficial advocacy efforts. The Minnesota tribal colleges also resolved to collaborate by employing best practices to improve student retention and graduation rates, expand transfer opportunities, share academic resources and programs, increase access to education via technology, impact the economic development of tribal communities.

Prior to the White House College Opportunity Day, President Day underscored the significance of the event. “Leech Lake Tribal College is honored to participate in the College Opportunity Day of Action hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. We represent a strong consortium of tribal colleges in Minnesota that are committed to increasing access and college opportunities to rural tribal communities.” He went on to add: “We recognize that our mission is to not only provide educational opportunities rooted in Anishinaabe values and culture, but to increase the number of college graduates as a measure of economic growth and workforce impact.”

President Obama earmarked $10 million to help promote college completion and $30 million for an AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9% of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10% of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

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