As we head into the back-to-school season, Native Americans in Philanthropy is aware of the many challenges facing Indigenous students, especially as they continue their studies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
With that in mind, we wanted to highlight organizations who focus their efforts on facilitating educational success for Native peoples.
Here are six Indigenous educational organizations you should follow!
AMERICAN INDIAN COLLEGE FUND
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund is the nation’s largest Native-run charity supporting Native student access to higher education. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provides American Indian and Alaska Native students with scholarships and program support, ensuring they have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers.
The College Fund also supports 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), which most of which are chartered by tribal governments and are located on or near Indian reservations.
AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION CONSORTIUM (AIHEC)
In 1973, the first six American Indian tribally controlled colleges established the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) to provide a support network as they worked to influence federal policies on American Indian higher education. Today, AIHEC has grown to 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the United States. Each of these institutions was created and chartered by its own tribal government or the federal government for a specific purpose: to provide higher education opportunities to American Indians through programs that are locally and culturally based, holistic, and supportive.
AMERICAN INDIAN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING SOCIETY (AISES)
American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) supports 220 affiliated pre-college schools, 197 chartered college and university chapters, 3 tribal chapters, and 18 professional chapters in the U.S. and Canada. They promote the highest standards of education and professional excellence to widen the STEM workforce and grow sector support. AISES highlights the geographic, economic, and social aspects of STEM education and careers.
In addition to awarding nearly $12 million and counting in academic scholarships, AISES offers internships, professional development and career resources, national and regional conferences, leadership development summits, and other STEM-focused programming.
NATIONAL INDIAN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (NIEA)
The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) was formed in 1970, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Native educators who were anxious to find solutions to improve the education system for Native children. The NIEA Convention was established to mark the beginning of a national forum for sharing and developing ideas, and influencing federal policy.
NIEA adheres to the organization’s founding principles: 1) to bring Native educators together to explore ways to improve schools and the schooling of Native children; 2) to promote the maintenance and continued development of Native languages and cultures; and 3) to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and policymakers.
NATIVE FORWARD SCHOLARS FUND
As the largest scholarship provider to Native students in the United States, the Native Forward Scholars Fund (formerly the American Indian Graduate Center) provides financial support for American Indians and Alaska Natives seeking higher education and supports them in attaining undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.
Throughout their 50-year history, the Native Forward Scholars Fund has empowered over 20,000 students from over 500 Tribes in all 50 states by providing scholarship dollars and support services for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.
Native Forward Scholars Fund awards approximately $15 million in scholarships annually and have awarded over $350 million since their inception.
SOCIETY FOR ADVANCEMENT OF CHICANOS/HISPANICS AND NATIVE AMERICANS IN SCIENCE (SACNAS)
SACNAS – Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science – is an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.
At SACNAS, they understand that diverse voices bring creative solutions to our world’s most pressing scientific problems. That’s why they’re building a national network that is innovative, powerful, and inclusive.
These organizations represent just a handful of the several out there that foster educational opportunities for students from marginalized and/or underserved communities. However, in the time of coronavirus, we know the complications and concerns facing all who are involved with education are “unique” to say the least.
Native Americans in Philanthropy wants to recognize every single organization and person who has worked towards providing the essential tools and resources needed for education and learning to still take place during the pandemic.
Regardless if you’re headed into the back-to-school season as a student, parent, teacher, staff member, administrator, or as part of an educational organization, thank you for all the efforts that have taken you this far and that will get us all through these demanding times.