|While 62% of all U.S. high school students go to college, only 17% of Native Americans are able to do so.
No matter how smart and deserving they are, most young Native Americans do not have the chance to attend college. Even if they are fortunate enough to earn a high school diploma, poverty and lack of access to educational opportunities force many to abandon the dream of higher education.
The mission of our Scholarship service is to give more American Indians and Alaskan Natives the resources and encouragement they need to learn and succeed. By harnessing the power of knowledge, these future leaders can bring about positive changes in their own lives and in their communities. To help college-bound Native Americans, we provide a free guide: Tools for Success — A Guide for High School Seniors, Families, Counselors and others…
The AIEF program is one of the United States’ largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, providing nearly $450,000 to about 225 students each year. Of these, nearly half are the first in their family to attend college. In addition, we mentor and support scholarship recipients throughout the year, which makes a dramatic difference in their success rates.
The Selection Committee
, which includes enrolled tribal members from around the country, looks beyond grade point averages and standardized test scores when choosing scholarship recipients. We seek out students who exhibit passion, resiliency, and leadership. We welcome applicants with solid performance and realistic goals, especially if they have overcome substantial obstacles or are nontraditional students. Nontraditional students may be defined as single parents with children, Elders returning to school after a long absence, or those students pursuing midlife career changes.
In short, we look for students who might be overlooked by other scholarship programs, but have demonstrated the motivation and drive to improve their own lives and the lives of others. In addition to our Graduate
and Undergraduate scholarships
, the AIEF program also offers several foundation and memorial scholarships.
The Big Sky Foundation
has devoted funds to a special scholarship fund to encourage qualified graduates of Tribal Colleges which offers Associate’s Degrees, but not Bachelor’s Degrees, to go on for their Bachelor’s Degrees. The Joseph and Mary Cacioppo Foundation has devoted scholarship funds to support two female and two male students in pursuing their post secondary educational careers. The Paul Francis Memorial Scholarship
was established in 2003 to honor the memory of a man who devoted many hours to serving Native American people on reservations around the United States. It’s recipients are selected in part for their commitment to helping their communities. The Josephine Nipper Memorial Scholarship
is awarded each year to a first-generation college student, who is studying education or nursing. All finalists selected by the committee are reviewed for these scholarships.
Typically, only about 20% of Native Americans who start college complete their first year, because of the tremendous culture shock, academic challenges, and financial strain. That’s why we offer much more than just funding.
Our staff and Selection Committee members provide one-on-one mentoring for scholarship recipients throughout the year. Students receive regular “care packages” of school supplies, household goods, and holiday gifts. When needed, we can arrange for tutoring and other emergency assistance.
All of this adds up to outstanding success for our scholars: more than 95% of our recipients stay in school. This service is unique due to the diversity of our Selection Committee, the broad approach to selecting recipients, the one-on-one mentoring, and the students’ own motivation and drive to succeed.
We are proud of our scholarship recipients and with the help of our generous donors, we hope to give the gift of education to more students each year.