Partnership Receives Gates and Lumina Grants

OLYMPIA, Wash.

The Partnership for Native American College Access and Success received $292,000 from the Gates Foundation and $195,000 from the Lumina Foundation to strengthen postsecondary curriculum for Native students and create a clear pathway to a bachelor’s degree for Native Americans in Muckleshoot and Tulalip communities, Evergreen State College announced.

The partnership is a collaboration of five Washington state higher education institutions: Antioch University, Evergreen State College, Grays Harbor College, Muckleshoot Tribal College, and Northwest Indian College.

Grants from the Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation will support the two-year effort, which began in June 2008.

A report on Indian education in Washington will be produced for wide distribution under these grants, the college said. Among other things, the new report will provide up-to-date information on programs available to serve Native students across the state.

According to Michelle Aguilar-Wells, co-director on the grants and director of Evergreen’s Reservation-Based Community-Determined Program, the project represents an unusually deep partnership between institutions. “What brings us together,” she says, “is our commitment to high-quality education for Native students.”

Officials said Northwest Indian College and Grays Harbor College will provide the foundational lower-division coursework with Grays Harbor College emphasizing online courses. Evergreen provides a program that prepares students for various careers in public service.  Antioch University plans to expand graduate programs for education at Muckleshoot Tribal College in fall 2008.

“We have been developing strong and diverse programs through partnerships since our start in 1996,” said Louie Gong, educational resource coordinator at Muckleshoot Tribal College. “But these new grants will take the concept of partnership to a whole new level.”

One of the innovations that will begin in the fall is a joint writing center that students in all of the different programs can use. “There’s just nothing like this elsewhere, and we’re really excited about it,” said Gong.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, president of Northwest Indian College, said that the project provides many opportunities for their tribal college. “We will be exploring new approaches to education, especially in the first year of college, which is so critical to student success. And we will also be looking at how to improve inter-institutional advising and administrative functions from a student and tribal point of view.”

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