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American Indian College Fund

NEW YORK – The American Indian College Fund is gearing up for its 13th annual Flame of Hope Gala, which will celebrate the success of tribal colleges since the founding of the first such institution 40 years ago by the Navajo Nation.

Event organizers said the gala’s main goal is to raise funds for student scholarships, since American Indian families have the lowest incomes in the nation and many Native students often must make difficult financial choices when they choose to seek a higher education.

Noting the tough current economic times, organizers anticipate that students will need to rely even more heavily on scholarship support in the coming years.

“People in mainstream America often think that they have it bad,” said Dina Horwedel, director of public education at the organization. “But these economic times negatively affect many of our Indian students even more greatly.”

Scholarship money raised through the event will be provided to deserving students attending the nation’s 32 tribal colleges and universities. Students can use the funds to pay for any school-related costs.

As the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships for Native students, the AICF provides roughly 5,000 scholarships annually for students seeking to better their lives and communities through education. The average amount of a single scholarship in 2007 was approximately $700.

One highlight of the gathering is expected to be the unveiling of a new public service campaign for the organization, which features the theme of how Native intelligence can be used to solve modern-day problems. The same advertising company that handled the Nike “Just Do It” campaign is behind the effort.

The organization will also be honoring its longtime supporter Pendleton Woolen Mills at the event. The Oregon-based company has been working with the AICF for a number of years, providing blankets for fundraising purposes and for student contests.

The event will be held Oct. 29 at Gotham Hall in New York City at 6 p.m. Attendees will be entertained by singer Jakob Dylan and a Native dance performance by the Redhawk Dance Troupe. CBS correspondent Hattie Kauffman, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, will be the evening’s mistress of ceremonies.

For more information on the gala, contact Lucia Novara at (303) 426-8900 or lnovara@collegefund.org.