Cultivating Native Student Success

Cultivating Native Student Success provides tribal colleges and universities the opportunity to examine their current approaches and design long-term strategies that include holistic, place-based, and collaborative student supports to promote transformative and systemic change that impacts Native student success. 

Supporting the Native Student Journey builds upon and enhances tribal colleges and universities’ enrollment practices and strategies to increase Native student enrollment, retention, persistence, and completion rates that reflect community and cultural values and definitions of student success.

Strategic Enrollment Management

Strategic enrollment management is a concept and process that enables the fulfillment of institutional mission and students’ educational goals. Through strategic enrollment management we center the student experience to learn ways to care for our students and create a culturally and community-informed approach to student participation.

Featured SEM Plans

Stone Child

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University

United Tribes Technical College

Oglala Lakota College - Strategic Enrollment Management Plan

Salish Kootenai College

Oglala Lakota College - Strategic Enrollment Management Plan

Oglala Lakota College

Best Practices

Participating Tribal Colleges

Theory of Action Key Items


The cohort approach is inclusive, providing peer learning opportunities for TCUs to assist one another while respecting the process to integrate SEM into their own unique TCU culture and environment.

Holistic approach that provides space for students, institutions, and communities to contribute their own vision to the project.

Time and space for collaboration among TCU administration, and staff who have similar challenges and successes.


Aspects distinctive in a college’s plan might be values as taught to them through tradition, goals as set within their community and tribal leadership, the language in which they communicate their plans, and other cultural practices that make sense to their institution and community.

Serve their students in ways that sustain tribal cultures, language, and values that are unique to them.

Approach must be reflective and recognizable within each TCU community.


TCU and College Fund websites will reflect SEM plans and related activities, updated regularly to communicate with the community, tribal and external partners, and stakeholders to tell their story of the student journey.

Telling the student journey story: transparency of data on websites, with community stakeholders, institution and boards.

Participation in national higher education spaces to promote TCU and American Indian and Alaskan Native visibility.


Sustainable and generative positions and roles are in place at each participating TCU, informed by their SEM plans to reflect their response to capacity building. Positions include enrollment managers, institutional data managers, post graduate readiness (ie: career and transfer positions) and community liaisons.

SEM planning is a generational, dynamic process that takes time for long term vision and impact.

College Fund inclusion of programs and supports: TCU capacity committee.

Increase student enrollment, fall to fall retention, completion by 2% each year.

Align institutional
structures with SEM components and models to reflect the cultural values of each TCU and promote Native centered student success.

Goal 1:

TCUs will document an increase
in their institutional capacity to deliver
culturally reflective holistic student
support services and relevant degree
programs to promote student engagement and completion.

Identified retention/SEM
committeesthat meet regularly
and reflect each area of the college, campus and AIAN communities, to increase transparency, accountability, and learning across departments.

Includes ad-hoc and sub committees, task force
teams, and advisory support roles working on particular SEM components to
support the overall SEM model.

Identify and document evidence based best practices reflective of
TCU cultural values and place-based education in student retention and completion.

Align programming
with regional tribal education, high schools
and HSE programs to increase matriculation to TCUs.

Align student services programming with
regional housing and economic tribal departments to understand trends and provide relevant resources
for student success.

Goal 2:

TCUs will Leverage community
resources and knowledge to help
remove socio-economic barriers and
increase engagement and supports
for new and returning students from
enrollment to completion and
meaningful careers.

Align programming
with tribal and community stakeholders to identify trends
in matriculation, post-graduate and transfer for ongoing partnerships and supports.

Increase accountability
and learning of community and student trends/needs
to promote holistic

An Indigenous Approach to Strategic Enrollment Management: The Native Student Journey at Tribal College and Universities

By Lisa Silverstein, Tiffany Gusbeth, and Jonathan Breaker

The Native student journey at tribal colleges and universities is imperative to impacting Native student success nationally. Through the Cultivating Native Student Success initiative, an Indigenous approach to strategic enrollment management (SEM) is considered in this publication by TCUs to broaden SEM practices across higher education. By Indigenizing SEM and building capacity centered on the unique cultural values inherent in tribal colleges and universities, we can increase American Indian and Alaska Natives visibility, representation, and degree attainment in higher education.

Meet the Team

Tiffany Gusbeth

Tiffany Gusbeth

(Northern Cheyenne)

Vice President,
Student Success Services

Lisa Silverstein, Ph.D

Lisa Silverstein, Ph.D

Senior Program Officer,
TCU Capacity for Student Success

Jonathan Breaker

Jonathan Breaker

(Blackfoot and Cree)

Program Officer,
TCU Capacity for Student Success

Delphina Thomas

Delphina Thomas


Program Officer,
TCU Capacity for Student Success

Autumn White Eyes, EdM

Autumn White Eyes, EdM

Oglala, Lakota, and Ojibwe (Turtle Mountain)

Program Officer,
TCU Capacity for Student Success

Taylor Keplin

Taylor Keplin

(Three Affiliated Tribes)

Program Coordinator,
TCU Student Success

Ilisagvik College

Barrow, Alaska

Dine College

Tsaile, Arizona

Tohono Oodham Community College

Sells, Arizona

Haskell Indian Nations University

Lawrence, Kansas

Bay Mills Community College

Brimley, Michigan

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College

L’Anse, Michigan

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College

Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

Cloquet, MN

Leech Lake Tribal College

Cass Lake, Minnesota

Red Lake Nation College

Red Lake, Minnesota

White Earth Tribal and Community College

Mahnomen, Minnesota

Aaniiih Nakoda College

Harlem, Montana

Blackfeet Community College

Browning, Montana

Chief Dull Knife College

Lame Deer, Montana

Fort Peck Community College

Poplar, Montana

Little Big Horn College

Crow Agency, Montana

Salish Kootenai College

Pablo, Montana

Stone Child College

Box Elder, Montana

Little Priest Tribal College

Winnebago, Nebraska

Nebraska Indian Community College

Macy, Nebraska

Institute of American Indian Arts

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Navajo Technical University

Crownpoint, New Mexico

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

Fort Totten, North Dakota

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College

New Town, North Dakota

Sitting Bull College

Fort Yates, North Dakota

Turtle Mountain Community College

Belcourt, North Dakota

United Tribes Technical College

Bismarck, North Dakota

College of the Muscogee Nation

Okmulgee, Oklahoma

Oglala Lakota College

Kyle, South Dakota

Sinte Gleska University

Mission, South Dakota

Sisseton Wahpeton College

Sisseton, South Dakota

Northwest Indian College, Bellingham

Bellingham, Washington

College of Menominee Nation

Keshena, Wisconsin

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University

Hayward, Wisconsin