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American Indian Colleges Get $30M

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American Indian Colleges Get $30M

WASHINGTON — Tribal colleges struggling on campuses cobbled together from old Army barracks, double-wide trailers or decommissioned high schools are getting a $30 million donation to help with construction and renovation.
“We’re aware of the conditions at these tribal colleges, and felt that since we had the resources, we’d like to be able to help them,” says Gretchen Wolfram of the Lilly Endowment Inc., which is making the gift to the American Indian College Fund. “These are schools that are in remote places and in not very good condition.”
The fund announcing the gift late last month to kick off a $120 million campaign to raise money for improvements at 30 tribal colleges serving 26,000 students in 12 states. So far, the fund drive has taken in $43 million, including the Lilly gift, American Indian College Fund spokeswoman Suzette Brewer says.
Most of the 30 schools are community colleges run by one or more tribes and located on reservations. Non-Indians also can take classes at the schools, but the colleges get federal per-student funding only for their Indian students.
While a few of the colleges have newer campuses, most hold classes in aging government-issue buildings or prefab “portable” classrooms.
“The tribal colleges are located in some of the worst facilities in the country for education,” says Brewer, an Oklahoma Cherokee.
Veterinary students at the Crownpoint Institute of Technology in New Mexico work in a metal shed built for a local uranium mine. The main classroom building at Cheyenne River Community College in South Dakota was condemned by inspectors.                                                          

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