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Gaming association donates to groups that help youths

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The National Indian Gaming Association announced on April 3 an ambitious charitable fund-raising campaign that will donate $10 million to two organizations benefiting Indian youth. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian Country and the American Indian College Fund will each receive $5 million. The announcement came at NIGA’s 15th Annual Trade Show and Membership Meeting in Albuquerque.

“These two organizations play crucially important roles to children growing up in Indian country,” said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. “I know, from personal experience, what the Boys and Girls Clubs can bring to a young person’s life on the reservation.” He continued, “When it is time to go to college, the American Indian College Fund is there to help. I am proud that we have designated these two great organizations as beneficiaries of our fund-raising campaign and that we are joining hands today to help our Native American youth.”

The campaign’s kickoff got a major boost from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota, which announced that it will donate $1 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs in Indian Country and $900,000 to the American Indian College Fund.

“Anytime that we can support efforts to help our children, it is important to seize the opportunity,” said Shakopee Chairman Stanley Crooks. “To ensure our sovereignty and to ensure the health of our tribes, we need to have our children get good educations so that they will be able to come back to the reservation, work with the tribe, and support their families.”

Stevens challenged other tribes to follow the lead set by the Shakopee community. “Indian country is filled with generosity. We know this goal is ambitious, but we believe we will reach it.”

Boys and Girls Clubs in Indian Country’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people – especially those from disadvantaged circumstances – to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The clubs provide Indian youth with a myriad of services including athletic programs, career and health counseling, and after-school activities.

The American Indian College Fund, established in 1989, distributes scholarships to 32 tribal colleges in 11 states. This aid directly supports more than 6,000 scholarships each year and helps thousands of Indian families send their children to college and to graduate school.

The NIGA is a nonprofit trade association comprised of 184 American Indian nations and other nonvoting associate members. The common commitment and purpose of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian people economically, socially and politically. NIGA operates as a clearinghouse and educational, legislative and public policy resource for tribes, policy-makers and the public on Indian gaming issues and tribal community development.