DENVER, Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Indian College Fund (the College Fund), a national Native education non-profit, today announced that Comcast and NBCUniversal is partnering with them to further the cause of Native American higher education with a donation of $5 million of advertising for its 2015 public service announcement (PSA) on its cable system and an additional gift of $500,000 of in-kind services and cash. The support will help the College Fund launch its 25(th) anniversary goals to increase Native American scholarship support and financial assistance for the nation’s tribal colleges and universities to increase the number of Native Americans with a higher education.
Comcast and NBCUniversal’s commitment follows its 2013 donation of more than $6.35 million in television advertising time for the College Fund’s 30-second Help A Student Help A Tribe (www.tribalcollege.org) PSA. Comcast and NBCUniversal played the advertisement over several weeks in nine major metropolitan markets at prime viewing times, resulting in increased public awareness about the need to support Native higher education. Internationally renowned advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy and award-winning director Joe Pytka donated their talents to collaborate on the production of the PSA, which depicts the impact one person has on their Native American community after earning a higher education.
“We are delighted to support the American Indian College Fund’s mission to provide Native American students with access to affordable, high quality education, and congratulate them on 25 years of making a meaningful difference in the lives of Native American youth,” said Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. “As we prepare to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we are proud to support the next generation of Native American leaders who strive to continue their education through tribal colleges and universities.”
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund said, “As indigenous people, we honor storytelling as a means of sharing our values and our way of life. The American Indian College Fund’s partnership with Comcast and NBCUniversal allows us to bring our story to a broader audience. The engagement of all Americans in the education of tribal people is strengthened when they hear our story. We appreciate that Comcast and NBCUniversal have allowed us to use their technology to share who we are with the rest of the country. They are part of the movement to improve American Indian higher education and we are proud of our partnership with them.”
About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest provider of support for Native higher education for 25 years. The College Fund provides an average of 6,000 scholarships annually and support for the nation’s 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities located on or near Indian reservations. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators. For more information, please visit www.collegefund.org.
From small local tribal colleges to regional and national institutions, more Native students are opting for a college education, on their terms, than ever before. Simply by doing what needs to be done, tribal colleges are leading the national trend in higher education to develop programs that serve their own community.
Tribal schools are re-shaping Indian country, and here, Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, speaks about the College Fund’s impact on Native students, tribal colleges, and communities.
Are there reasons besides location that Native students choose tribal colleges?
Tribal colleges are a place where you go to school with people like yourself. It’s a sanctuary, an environment to explore your identity and your place in the world while furthering your professional and career goals.
Tribal colleges don’t teach about Indians, they teach Indians, and that is a significant difference. The intention, the mission, the vision, of the tribal college is so grounded in saving who we are and being who we are. You can probably get that social network when you go to other institutions, but you are not going to get the intensity or the breadth of it the way you do at a tribal college, and that’s very rewarding.
How many Native students attend tribal colleges?
Tribal colleges comprise about 20,000 students of probably 180,000 Native students across the country. Most of the time, our institutions educate more American Indians than other institutions. We are a very significant and important participant in the higher education systems in this country, not only because we educate American Indian and Alaska Native students, but because we are also educating rural Americans. Many times, we are the place where rural families are able to get a college education.
Sitting High Construction carpentry students at Aaniiih Nakoda College. (Aaniiih Nakoda College)
How many students does the organization fund?
We fund about 6,000 students, probably about one-quarter of our applicants. We primarily support Native American students in tribal colleges, but we currently give 8 to 10 percent of our scholarships to Native students attending other institutions.
The College Fund’s scholarship programs range from smaller scholarships of less than copy,000 to scholarships as high as copy0,000 depending on the wishes of the donor. Some scholarships are supported by donors for specific fields, such as healthcare or business majors. Many scholarships are funded through endowments established by donors and others are funded through annual contributions.
We know of course that there are a significant number of Native students at tribal colleges who don’t apply. Some first generation, low income, college students don’t necessarily understand financial aid or scholarships. We have had a significant increase over the years of scholarship applicants, but we still have a long way to go to serve all of the students, and to fully fund students, which is as important as the number of students who participate.
How do tribal colleges change communities?
A special characteristic of the tribal colleges is that they are very much embedded in their community. They are founded by their communities, they serve their communities wishes, and the degree programs of the tribal colleges are almost always driven by community demand.
We were on the cutting edge of creating community-based baccalaureate programs and we didn’t even know it. We were just doing the work that needed to be done—creating the kind of programs that served the career and professional needs of our communities. Today, that’s a big driver for a lot of higher education institutions. We were already doing that, and we might be doing that a lot. We might be the leading provider of adult education or rural education, simply because we are doing the work we are called upon to do. We are often invisible.
What kind of degree programs do tribal colleges offer?
Tribal colleges are a combination of community and comprehensive institutions. I think about 15 or 16 offer bachelor’s degrees, and a few are now offering master’s degrees. Some offer career and technical education as well as professional degrees like teaching and counseling. More and more are offering degree programs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, and business is one of the most popular majors of tribal college students.
Comanche Nation College students check out what’s under the microscope (Comanche Nation College)
Besides scholarships, how is College Fund money used?
The College Fund provides support to tribal colleges in these areas:
Faculty development, which includes funding individuals to complete graduate degrees and to participate in research;
Training faculty to be better teachers;
We are a re-granter for funders who are interested in developing an area of programming, such as cultural and traditional arts or sustainability. We work with tribal colleges to expand their curriculum or maybe provide internships or fellowships for students, or train faculty to teach in those areas. I don’t want to say we are just a conduit to give them resources, because we also provide them with technical assistance, giving them the resources they need to be successful.
We also provide some support to the tribal colleges for operations. It’s not a lot, but it’s money they can use for whatever they wish, operationally. This money comes from the proceeds of endowments and money we get from fund raising.
Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull (right) introduces the tribal college presidents at the “Honoring the Presidents” grand entry during the 2013 AIHEC Student Conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was her first AIHEC as the president of the College Fund. Also in the photo: Jim Davis, (left) president of Turtle Mountain Community College; Lionel Bordeaux, (center) president of Sinte Gleska University; and Maggie George, president of Dine College. (American Indian College Fund)
What is on the horizon for the College Fund?
Our 25th anniversary is coming up in October and we are positioned for dramatic growth. The College Fund has enjoyed incremental growth over the years and we intend to have exponential growth. Since I came here two years ago, we have spent a lot of time really focusing on market research and developing a new strategic plan. We are looking at best practices, at what do we want to strengthen and improve in our work.
The need is so great that we feel we have to bring a dramatically greater amount of resources to our organization to share with the tribal colleges and students.
We have support in all directions. Tribes really support the College Fund because they recognize that tribal colleges provide higher education to the tribes. We also have a lot of support from corporations and foundations. They can invest in us to steward their resources well in distributing to the colleges and students; they know we have great success with their resources. Individual donors want to be part of a movement, and they want to see a better America. They want to see minority and low-income people have the opportunity to succeed. The College Fund can be a conduit to helping our donors achieve their goals while helping Native students succeed.
On April 2 the Department of the Interior announced that quarterly transfers of nearly $580,000 are set to begin this week to the American Indian College Fund. The Cobell Education Fund is part of the historic Cobell Settlement fund of 2012, which will provide financial assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training.
“The Scholarship Fund is an important tool to help students across Indian country pursue higher education opportunities imperative to their success in the workplace and to the creation of the next generation of Indian leaders,” said Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins in a press release. Tompkins helped negotiate the Cobell Settlement on behalf of the Department of the Interior.
“While there was much debate in the settlement negotiations, there was no debate among the parties that we must do something to support Indian students in their aspirations and dreams,” she said.
According to the Interior, the scholarship fund is financed in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. The program was created by the Cobell Settlement, which provided copy.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. As an incentive to participate in the land consolidation program, a percentage of each purchase is donated to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund.
The American Indian College Fund in Denver, Colorado will be in charge of administering the scholarship fund monies to eligible students interested in enrolling or currently enrolled in tribal colleges, technical and vocational programs and undergraduate and graduate programs.
Eligible students must be enrolled in an accredited, non-profit, U.S. institution that awards graduating students either bachelor’s degrees or career and technical certificates, or students that are pursuing post-baccalaureate graduate or professional degree as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited institution in the U.S. Online degrees are covered as long as they meet the above requirements.
In accordance with the programs guidelines, 20 percent of the funds will be allocated to support graduate students through the American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
According to Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, the organization is currently only able to provide scholarships to 75 percent of its current applicants, so the disbursement is a welcomed asset.
“We are thrilled to be able to remember and implement the vision of Elouise Cobell so that the Cobell Scholarship Fund can lift up tribal students and their families, and also know that we have a long way to go,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network.
“Current U.S. Department of Education data shows that less than 13 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives earn a college degree compared to 28 percent of other racial groups,” she continued. “No doubt this is due to economic disparity, especially in reservation communities, as well as education disparity. We believe these scholarships will be a good start in providing Native people with a post-secondary education, which we see as the solution to ending poverty and its problems.
“We know there are many tribal students who have yet to access available scholarships so the need for scholarships will continue to rise.”
Crazy Bull also said that though the scholarships will help, the $580,000 is not a guaranteed amount per quarter as the Department of the Interior will contribute up to $60 million over the course of the Land Buy-Back Program. “Payments may vary each quarter depending on land sales and the value of those lands sold,” she said.
Currently the College Fund is still working to meet its goal of 60 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives having earned a higher education by 2025 and will still relentlessly continue to pursue fundraising goals.
“If we were to fully fund tribal college students, 20,000 students at an average cost of copy6,000 a year, we would need $32 million a year for scholarships,” Crazy Bull said. “There are at least another 160,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students attending college across the U.S. The vast majority of them have great need for financial support.
“Tribal people have a right to access education in whatever manner works for them and wherever they choose to go to school.”
“While the Cobell Scholarship Fund has criteria like all scholarships generally do, the funds will make a difference with access and we hope that the funds can serve as a resource for students to stay in school. Our student persistence and graduation rates are a focus of tribal educators and we know one of the most significant barriers is adequate financial support,” Crazy Bull said.
Students interested in applying for the American Indian College Fund Scholarships should visit the College Fund website.
The American Indian College Fund will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014. Cheryl Crazy Bull, Sicangu Lakota the president and chief executive officer of the fund, reveals her hopes and goals for the fund’s future. Crazy Bull began her own career teaching at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation, where she worked her way up in the administration to become department chair. Crazy Bull later served as president of Northwestern Indian College in Washington state.
How has the Fund changed in the past 25 years?
The Fund started from nothing 25 years ago, is now giving $5.5 million to $6 million a year, and we have given more than 85,000 scholarships since then.
People think the funds are raised for broadly based education, but it is specifically for the 34 tribal institutions that have educated 20,000 students. The Fund was developed in 1989 by tribal college presidents to support tribal colleges and universities.
The College Fund has been able to grow in a selective environment, and is funded by individuals who are interested in supporting tribal education, and who appreciate the opportunity it brings to the disadvantaged.
What are some of the challenges the Fund has faced?
The Fund is not as broadly known as it should be to really affect those who are seriously disadvantaged. Within the market we do have name recognition; we are probably the largest Native American controlled fund in the country. We offer funding to thousands of colleges, and we support a whole range of programs. In that regard, we are pretty large, but not large enough to provide support to all who apply.
Can all of the applicants receive money through the Fund?
We can support about 25 percent of the applicants, but we estimate that 75 to 90 percent who apply are eligible for financial aid. We know there is a huge gap between what we need and what we can provide. We also know tribal colleges operate on shoestring budgets, and that they can’t compete with other college salaries. But we were able to give some funding to build a number of newer facilities.
The College Fund is in a good position to provide a place for people to invest their money. Anybody who gives money wants to know it will be well spent.
How many of the students who receive funding graduate?
The goal has been towards providing accessibility to funding and not as much effort has been put into tracking, but we are going to start looking at this. We recently did a study and a large percentage of the recipients said that they achieved their educational goals with the support they received. Students express a high level of satisfaction of their experience, and that information comes from an outside agency.
What are some of the goals?
Right now the Fund is positioning for dramatic growth. We are putting a new strategic fund in place, and we want to have a very successful campaign for the 25th anniversary in 2014. We are also preparing to ambitiously work on new marketing programs with Wiedan and Kennedy, an international marketing firm, to capitalize on public interest. I am looking forward to working on that.
What is the best thing a student can do to receive funding?
Go to class and do the work, and ask for the help. To receive funding, students attending a tribal college must meet the criteria of the donor. There are two kinds of funding sources. One goes through the college, and is standard, given according to need and GPA. Then there are funds given by a donor who maybe wants to fund a health major or a certain tribe, and we administer those funds.
In the scholarship arena, the best thing for a student to do is apply. They may be remarkable and talented, but they need to apply. We want to get them to apply even if they don’t get the funding because it helps us show the funders there is a need for more, and who knows, maybe you’ll get one next time.
The Fund originated during the civil rights movement when tribal leaders decided to take education back from the failed policies of the U.S. government. The first tribal college was founded by the Navajo Nation, achieving the goal of teaching their students on the reservation. Today there are 34 tribal colleges and universities in 14 states, serving tribal members from every area of the country.
Days before the government shutdown ended in October, Cheryl Crazy Bull calmly recounted some of the steps already taken by tribal colleges to cope with funding cuts.
“Over the years, they’ve never had enough [resources],” says Crazy Bull, who became president of the American Indian College Fund last year. “They operate with frugality and worst-case-scenario behavior.”
Crazy Bull knows this firsthand. She was president of Northwest Indian College near Bellingham, Wash., for nearly 10 years before joining the college fund.
“I remember as college president literally looking at cash flow every day to see what bills we could pay,” she recalls.
Crazy Bull, 58, who takes to heart her Lakota name, which means “They depend on her,” brings to her latest job persistence, business know-how, passion for the tribal college’s mission, and a willingness to take on unfamiliar challenges.
Growing up on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, Crazy Bull was one of five children. Her parents ran a grocery store until her father joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Her parents, whom she describes as “well-educated public servants,” stressed education. But it took Crazy Bull a couple of tries to get on the right track.
She first enrolled at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. — and left after one quarter. Academics weren’t a problem, but she had a sheltered life and the social scene was a “huge shock,” Crazy Bull says.
She transferred twice — to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., then finally settling in at the University of South Dakota, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business management. She later earned a master’s degree in education administration from South Dakota State University.
After graduating, Crazy Bull taught business and Native studies and held administrative positions at Sinte Gleska University, the tribal college that serves Rosebud. After 15 years at the school, she left to oversee an agency that assisted local home-based businesses, including auto mechanics, quilting and food catering.
At this point, Crazy Bull was the single parent of three children and did some consulting on the side to help support her family.
Crazy Bull then became the equivalent of a superintendent at St. Francis Indian School, which enrolled Rosebud children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
After nearly five years at the school, Crazy Bull moved to the northwest to be near her daughter and take a post that she had always wanted — president of a tribal college.
While at Northwest Indian College, she resolved issues with financing and accreditation before taking the school from a two-year to a four-year institution, something she said the community wanted badly. The college had to identify and recruit students who wanted to get their bachelor’s degrees, ensure the facility had the requisite advanced degrees, and build its curriculum and facilities. Much of the campus was rebuilt.
Crazy Bull was new to many of the tasks.
“I find myself in situations where I don’t know anything, but something needs to be done,” she says.
Sharon Kinley, director of the college’s Coast Salish Institute, which Crazy Bull established, says she brought a good mix to the school. “[Crazy Bull] is a visionary, but not just that, she has the practical, deliberate background with which visions become real,” says Kinley.
After almost 10 years at Northwest, Crazy Bull felt she should move on. She was appointed president of the American Indian College Fund, based in Denver, after her predecessor retired.
Crazy Bull’s accomplishments at Northwest helped her get the job, says Dr. Elmer Guy, chairman of the College Fund’s board of trustees.
But Crazy Bull has more mountains to climb in heading an organization that gives financial support to the nation’s 37 tribal colleges and to students who come from more than 250 tribes around the country.
The college fund is pushing for legislation to fully fund the schools, which are authorized to receive $8,000 per student per year but get more like $5,500.
Next year, to mark its 25th anniversary, the college fund will mount a $25 million fundraising campaign that Crazy Bull wants to follow with a bigger campaign for scholarships and endowments.
When she is not working on behalf of the college fund, Crazy Bull makes quilts as gifts and for traditional ceremonies. She also writes poems, stories and essays and is currently writing her memoirs.
DENVER – The American Indian College Fund is projected to raise $550,000 to support Native American student scholarships at its 18th annual Flame of Hope Gala, held on October 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull to begin the celebration and dinner.
Native artist Steven Paul Judd, Kiowa and Choctaw, created a painting live at the event, which was awarded to the donor providing the largest gift. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe took the painting for their donation of $50,000. A silent auction including art by the nation’s top Native artists, and entertainment by Native musicians, including classical guitarist Gabriel Ayala and the dance and music group Brulé, were featured. Haskell Indian Nations University alumnus Dominic Clichee spoke during the program.
The American Indian College Fund honored the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis for funding a $1 million, one-year Tribal College Leaders in Community Innovation Award, providing financial assistance for tribal college programs impacting local communities at Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota; Sitting Bull College in North Dakota; Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota; Stone Child College in Montana; and Northwest Indian College in Washington State.
Honoring AICF $1 million partnership with the President and CEO of The Northwest Area Foundation, Mr. Kevin Walker.
The American Indian College Fund wishes to express gratitude to the 37 individual, corporate, foundation, and tribal nation sponsors that made this year’s Flame of Hope Gala a tremendous success.
Flame of Hope Sponsor:
Keeper of the Flame Sponsor:
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota
Vision of Hope Sponsors:
The CocaCola Company
Comcast NBC Universal
Nissan North America
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
Circle of Hope Sponsors:
The Richard Black Family: Richard, Heather, Kara, and Erica
Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services
Wieden + Kennedy
Spirit of Giving Sponsors:
The Tierney Family Foundation
United Health Foundation
Kimberly S. Blanchard
Kauffman and Associates, Inc.
Leech Lake Tribal College
National Indian Gaming Association
Ignite the Flame Sponsors:
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College
College of the Muscogee Nation
Northwest Indian College
DENVER – The American Indian College Fund is excited to announce it has received a total of the $310,000 from USA Funds.
USA Funds, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, has provided $200,000 for American Indian scholarships for 200 students attending a tribal college and university and $110,000 to sponsor the American Indian College Fund’s Flame of Hope Gala and provide marketing support for other scholarship fundraising efforts. USA Funds has supported the College Fund for more than a decade.
“USA Funds has been a key partner with the American Indian College Fund. Their support helps to ensure that American Indian students with great financial need have the opportunity to earn a college education, enriching their lives and those of their families, while allowing them to contribute to the betterment of their communities,”
said Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.
“We are delighted to continue our partnership with USA Funds to increase access to a college education for Native people.”
“A postsecondary education not only benefits the individual, but the society as a whole through increased tax revenues and charitable giving, to name just a couple of the many benefits,”
says William D. “Bill” Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO.
“USA Funds continues to support the American Indian College Fund because no other organization provides greater scholarship support for Native American students as they pursue their postsecondary education dreams and work to improve the quality of life for themselves and the communities in which they live and work.”
While most parents and students are just thinking about getting back to school, high school students should always be thinking about applying to as many scholarships as possible. The more money that can be earned through scholarships means less loans to pay back later.
Here are 6 places for Native students to start looking:
The Gates Millennium Scholars program chooses 1,000 minority students each year—150 of which are Native—to receive scholarships of up to $250,000 that are good until they graduate at a university of their choice. Just keep in mind that while becoming a Gates Scholar will be worth the effort, it won’t be an easy task.
“The application process was really grueling,” said Lakin Keener, 18, a 2013 Gates Scholar from Sequoyah High School. “I spent six months on it. I probably spent two months on one essay alone.”
Applications for the 2014 Gates Millennium Scholars program are due January 15, 2014. For more information, visit GMSP.org.
The American Indian College Fundhas been providing Native students with scholarships and other support since 1989. Alli Moran, Cheyenne River Sioux, is one of those students. The American Indian College Fund has helped her get through attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s in her third year toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree in indigenous liberal studies and a certificate in business and entrepreneurship.
Application deadlines vary for scholarships offered by the American Indian College Fund. For more information, visit CollegeFund.org.
Catching the Dreamoperates three scholarship programs for Native students—MESBEC, the Native American Leadership Education program and the Tribal Business Management program. MESBEC includes math, engineering, science, business, education and computers and is fund’s oldest program. “These fields are the ones in which tribes need graduates the most, and the fields in which there are the fewest Indian graduates,” says the Catching the Dream website.
The deadline for the spring semester is September 15. For more information, visit CatchingtheDream.org.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society provides scholarships to Native students in an effort to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—fields.
The 2013 AISES National Conference will be held October 31 to November 2 in Denver, Colorado, this year’s theme is Elevate. Applications for travel scholarships to attend are due by September 6. For more information, visi tAISES.org.
The Association on American Indian Affairs began in 1922 as the Eastern Association on Indian Affairs. It was started to help protect the land rights of a group of Pueblo. It became the AAIA in 1946 and awarded its first scholarship in 1948. While they are no longer accepting scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year, it’s never too early to prepare applications for 2014-2015. For more information, visit Indian-Affairs.org.
Indian Country Today Media Networkoffers a convenient list of scholarships for Native students to browse through while they decide where to apply. View the full lis there.
Native students should not just be looking for Native specific scholarships though. As Dr. Dean Chavers, director of Catching the Dream, says there are fewer than 200 Native scholarships listed on the Fastweb database, another good place to look for scholarships as they have more than 1.5 million listed.
“Native scholarships represent less than one-tenth of one percent of all scholarships,” Chavers says in his essayHow to Find and Win Scholarships. “We urge students to find all the scholarships they are eligible for, and apply to them. Scholarships are not all equal.”
The American Indian College Fund announced that the United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative has awarded copy00,000 for scholarships to 18 academically deserving Native students pursuing health or health-related degrees.
The scholarships were announced at the fifth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings more than 60 scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., July 24-26 to celebrate the scholars and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system. This year’s event gives these future health care professionals the opportunity to meet and interact with members of Congress and leaders from a variety of health care fields.
Five scholarships will be awarded to New Mexico tribal college students attending Navajo Technical College; five scholarships will be awarded to Arizona tribal college students attending Dine College or Tohono O’odham Community College; four scholarships will be awarded to students attending Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, or the University of Arizona; and four scholarships will be awarded to students attending San Juan College-Farmington, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, or Western New Mexico University.
According to the American Medical Association and Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of multicultural health professionals is disproportionately low when compared to the overall population. For example, while about 15 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic/Latino, only 5 percent of physicians and 4 percent of registered nurses are Hispanic/Latino. About 12 percent of the population is African American, yet only 6 percent of physicians and 5 percent of registered nurses are African American.
Given the changing demographics in the United States and the volumes of people entering the health care system due to the Affordable Care Act, there is an even greater need for a more diverse health care workforce.
Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and adopt the medical treatment they receive. Increasing the diversity of health care providers will reduce the shortage of medical professionals in underserved areas, reduce inequities in academic medicine and address variables — such as language barriers — that make it difficult for patients to navigate the health care system.
The scholarships announced today are part of United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, which has provided nearly $2 million in scholarships this year through partnerships with organizations like the American Indian College Fund. The initiative aims to increase diversity in the health care workforce by supporting promising future health professionals.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to support these exceptional students in their efforts to achieve their educational goals and work to improve our health care system,” said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation. “The Diverse Scholars Initiative helps these scholars fund their education, and gives them an opportunity to learn from one another and interact with experts who are leading the way in improving patient care.”
“The American Indian College Fund is thrilled to continue its partnership with the United Health Foundation. Inequity in health care combined with the highest rates of diabetes, cancer, and other serious diseases have created a vital need for Native health care professionals across Indian Country. These scholarships will help train the next generation of Native healers,” said Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.
With its credo “Educating the Mind and Spirit,” The American Indian College Fund is the premier scholarship organization for Native students. Created in 1989 to provide scholarships and support for 34 of the nation’s tribal colleges, the Fund receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators, including the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and received its third consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator. It provides more than 4,200 Native students with scholarships annually.
About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.