College Fund Study to Unlock Ways Tribal Colleges Help Native Students Succeed in College and Career

Sep 7, 2017 | Blog

Students at Dine College in their business class
Students at Dine College in their business class

Students at Dine College in their business class at their main campus on the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

Thirty-four accredited tribal colleges and universities provide higher education opportunities to American Indian communities nationwide. Now, thanks to a $450,000 three-year grant from The Kresge Foundation, the American Indian College Fund will conduct a study on student success at three tribal colleges (TCUs). These best practices will then be scaled up and replicated at TCUs and other educational institutions working with Native students.

The College Fund will determine how TCUs retain Native students, help them graduate, provide internship opportunities to launch students’ professional careers, and capture data about these students’ successes to better serve them and future students, all while engaging TCU faculty and scholars work in the study. The findings will be used to assist the College Fund in providing programs to better serve Native communities.

Since 2013, the Kresge Foundation has provided $1,200,000 for programming that supports the College Fund’s mission of investing in Native students and tribal college education to transform lives and communities. The Kresge Foundation previously supported a $750,000 Achieving the Dream project at two TCUs to strengthen and build the capacity of the TCUs to serve student needs.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said “The College Fund especially appreciates this opportunity because The Kresge Foundation and the College Fund share the value of student success in grassroots, place-based institutions.  Lives are transformed and communities are renewed because we share in the pursuit of higher education.  Best practice research is particularly valuable because it directly addresses what works to achieve our graduation goals.”

“TCUs are essential anchors in their communities, creating environments that foster Native American culture, languages, and traditions,” said Rebecca Villarreal, Ph.D., Kresge program officer, Education Program. “Among other activities, the Kresge grant provides the College Fund an opportunity to learn alongside TCUs, with the focus on long-term sustainability.”

About the Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit


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