Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announces $4 million emergency relief grant to the American Indian College Fund

(Photo: American Indian College Fund)

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Grant made in response to COVID-19 pandemic

News Release

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation yesterday announced a $4 million grant to the American Indian College Fund to support college students whose educational progress has been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are engines of opportunity — propelled by a cadre of dedicated educators and administrators — many lack the resources needed to deploy information technology tools, student services, and other solutions at the scale needed by their students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tribal Colleges and Universities have been disproportionately and devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to historical inequities, structural and enrollment-related challenges, and overly burdened institutional financial aid budgets. The Mellon Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts to allocate resources and ensure that aid is delivered to students most in need.  

“Tribal Colleges and Universities are central to our nation’s fabric and critical to its future. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the societal and structural challenges that many of these institutions have long confronted, and we are committed to doing all that we can to support them and the students they serve,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander.   

Even in better times, many students at these institutions face impediments to their individual well-being and academic progress. As campuses have closed in efforts to contain the virus’s spread, undergraduate and graduate students struggle to navigate these unprecedented times.   

According to the Tribal Colleges and Universities #RealCollege Survey report published this March, 29 percent of Tribal Colleges and Universities student survey respondents were homeless at some point in the prior 12 months, almost 62 percent were food insecure in the prior 30 days, and 69 percent faced housing insecurity in the prior 12 months.   

“The College Fund appreciates the ways that the Mellon Foundation has demonstrated leadership in its support of tribal colleges and has shown care for the well-being of our students and their families during this crisis,” said American Indian College Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull. “Our students are not only the backbone of their families, they are our hope for the future – through their perseverance and creativity, our tribal communities will survive this pandemic and bring prosperity to our society.” 

The American Indian College Fund will distribute the emergency funds to its network of tribal colleges so that they can address immediate and pressing needs related to the pandemic and provide persistence resources to support new and returning students in the summer and fall of 2020 and beyond as determined necessary. Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund is the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education. In addition to providing thousands of scholarships to Native American students, the College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations.  

Members of the public may add their support by making individual contributions on the American Indian College Fund’s website. 

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, our core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. 

Additional information is available at mellon.org. 

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(Image: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)
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