Circle of Hope Newsletter

Cheryl Crazy Bull Maya, 2016 Student Ambassador Breanne, Student ambassador Salish Kootenai Graduation 2016 Student ambassadors

PRESIDENT’S LETTER | STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS | OUR PROGRESS | DONOR SPOTLIGHT


PRESIDENT’S LETTER

November 2017

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on how important it is to be able to identify myself using terms that are personal to me; and the impact that has for all of us in the way we feel self-confidence and pride in our individuality. Perhaps you define yourself by the job you do or the language you speak. Or maybe you identify yourself by your skin color, sexual orientation, or what part of the world you grew up in. Or even the type of community you hail from or the hobby you particularly love. All of these are wonderful examples of how we, as humans, find power in the way we identify ourselves. And it’s most powerful because we are able to define for ourselves how we want to be identified.

Native Americans are often identified by labels and ideas that are not of our own choosing. That is why Native American Heritage Month is so important and means so much to me. National recognition of this month reinforces the choices we have to empower ourselves. It’s a month that not only honors our ancestors, but is a time when we celebrate with you, our friends, the wonderful things that make us remarkably special and unique. And as our friends, it’s important that as we celebrate, you show up for us and embrace us.

And we know you do because you’ve demonstrated that your support extends well past this month – it’s all year long. When you support American Indian scholars, you are providing an opportunity to thousands of Native students to find themselves through education. So many of our students have shared with me how validating your support is. Your support says you respect our right to be Native American and live as Native American peoples. Your gifts say to our students “You are part of our community and part of my world.” Isn’t that amazing?

The opportunities we have when pursuing higher education affect our lives in so many enriching ways. Many of our scholars learn about their tribes and their culture for the first time in college. When we speak our language, understand our history, honor our ancestors, and live our true lives as Native peoples, we are better students. When we are supported in our choices, we are better people.

That is why I’m happy to share our theme this year – #ShowUp4NativeCommunities. We know you show up every day for Native Communities and we’re excited to provide in this newsletter additional opportunities to show up in new ways.

Enjoy Native foods this holiday season and share celebratory tweets and posts. Join us in a Coast-to-Coast dine out event at local restaurants for a night out or happy hour with your family and friends – exciting details inside. Sign our online pledge and help us kick off a national movement to show our support for Native Communities. We have these opportunities and many more. Thank you for showing up for us and celebrating with us.

In solidarity and with love for all students and their families,

Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota)
President & CEO, American Indian College Fund

Cheryl Crazy Bull Maya, 2016 Student Ambassador Breanne, Student ambassador Salish Kootenai Graduation 2016 Student ambassadors

PRESIDENT’S LETTER | STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS | OUR PROGRESS | DONOR SPOTLIGHT


PRESIDENT’S LETTER

October 2017 (Summer Edition)

Anyone who has spent time with our scholars knows their strength of character, their ambition, and their drive.

I am proud to say that these hardworking young people are not only shedding new light on the positivity of American Indian youth, they are showing the world that they want and deserve a higher education. They are seizing their own futures and charting their destinies – and in turn, they are staking their claim in history. They don’t want to just be history. They want to make history.

As a Native woman, I’ve heard many different viewpoints on American Indians. And I’ll be honest, some are very hurtful. These negative views are background noise that serves only as a distraction from our scholars’ goals, which ultimately we all share. To have what I believe everyone wants in life – the ability to support ourselves, have a good life, and to do what makes us happy.

And because only 13.8% of American Indians have college degrees, we need your help to cut through the background noise. We need to impact graduation rates and assure success for all our scholars.

YOU are changing the face of education for American Indian scholars through your support. Together we are helping more American Indians start college, stay in college, complete college, and be prepared for life after graduation. Our students are entering the world with new skills that will allow them to move into careers and positions they might not have considered before – or in which they’ve previously been underrepresented.

We’re seeing a sharp increase in application rates as more American Indians seek higher education. Our scholars’ graduation rate has increased 36%. The number of American Indians with degrees has increased 6% in the last two years. More than 10,000 scholarship applications were received this past spring for the fall semester. All showing the ambition and desire our American Indian scholars have to succeed.

For specific examples of American Indian students demonstrating their desire to succeed, I encourage you to look inside and meet Mechelle and Johnny. Though at different points in their educational journeys, both of these exceptional Native scholars are making strong contributions to their communities, society, and our collective history.

Now, more than ever, we want the world to see our young people earning an education, leading prosperous lives, becoming scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, and doctors. See them curing diseases, creating businesses, discovering new knowledge, and through it all integrating and sharing their sacred indigenous knowledge.

I wish to leave you with this thought. American Indians are worth investing in. With your help and continued support, we will make sure our American Indian scholars are seen for what they truly are – the future!

In solidarity and with love for all students and their families,

Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota)

President and CEO, American Indian College Fund

Cheryl Crazy Bull Maya, 2016 Student Ambassador Breanne, Student ambassador Salish Kootenai Graduation 2016 Student ambassadors

PRESIDENT’S LETTER | STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS | OUR PROGRESS | DONOR SPOTLIGHT

PRESIDENT’S LETTER 

May 2017 (Spring Edition)

In this newsletter you will meet two American Indian College Fund scholars, Breanne and Maya. They are extraordinary, talented young people who shine as brightly as the hope they bring to their communities and our world. They are truly finding their power, charting their destiny and claiming their future.

Breanne and Maya will soon be part of the 13.8% of American Indians with college degrees. They, like all of our students, are willing to do whatever it takes to complete their education – not just to change their own lives, but to change the world.

Many of our graduates have already created a significant footprint, including developing and sharing environmental research at a global forum in China; visiting the White House to talk about computer coding; advancing at lightning speed at one of the largest companies in the world; and completing a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Maya and Breanne will be no different – they are exceptional, but they are not exceptions. Breanne’s goals include graduate school to pave the way for her quest to become a college president. Maya aspires to tell true stories of the contributions American Indians are making in today’s world, ensuring that when today’s events are history they will be correctly and abundantly documented.

I am humbled that the College Fund supports such outstanding young people and am so proud of their extraordinary accomplishments. And I am forever grateful to you for partnering with the College Fund in seeing and supporting both the realized and untapped potential in our students and their communities.

Three years ago we set and shared some bold organizational goals – to increase the number of American Indian students attending college and to increase our scholars’ graduation rates – resulting in more American Indians with college degrees. We have made significant progress against these goals, which we share in this newsletter. Please read “We’ve Moved the National Needle” on page 2 for the details outlining our successful progress to date.

There are three pillars driving our success. The first, of course, is our students and the passion, commitment and dedication they demonstrate day in and day out in their relentless pursuit of a college degree. The second is the College Fund’s innovative creation of an effective, successful framework to get urgently needed support and funding to American Indian students. And the third pillar – the one for which we are most grateful and the one that continually holds us up, is you. As we share with you the movement we are seeing in reaching our goals, you must know that the foundation for that success is you.

As Lauren, one of our recent graduates, says, “Your support is everything – without it I wouldn’t have had even a chance of finishing college.” The end of this month is the deadline for determining our scholarship funding for the fall semester. Just imagine what our students will do with your continued support!

In solidarity and with love for all students and their families,

Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota)

President and CEO, American Indian College Fund