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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Partners with American Indian College Fund to Support Native Student Veterans

Fellowship program will support the success of Native student veterans at TCUs

May 17 2024, Denver, Colo.— The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has received a $50,000 grant from the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust to implement a six-month fellowship focused on empowering Native student veterans to success. The Naabaahii Ółta’í (Student Warrior): Native Student Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program is a mentorship opportunity that builds relationships between veterans based upon their shared experiences.

The Native Student Fellows will collaborate to develop and implement a community-based project that will support the overall health and wellness of their TCUs and communities. This opportunity will help the participating Native student veterans discover how to best fill their roles both on and off campus. Each TCU involved in the project will receive $9,000 to support programmatic efforts.

American Indian College Fund President and CEO, Cheryl Crazy Bull, said, “We appreciate being able to honor the Native men and women who support our country through military service. The Naabaahii Ółta’í (Student Warrior): Native Student Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program allows fellows to use the skills learned in the armed forces to take up mantles of leadership in a new way on tribal college campuses and in their home communities.”

Both of the selected Native Student Fellows, Cynthia Jones and Tori Benally, shared their thoughts on the importance of this program. Jones said, “As an Indigenous Female Veteran, I have endured many challenges that have come before me, the voices of my ancestors through their songs and prayers have bestowed upon me, I now can see myself as a leader of my family and community.”

Benally added, “Being a part of this scholarship, has taught me how to become a leader as a woman. To stay ahead and to be prepared to help give an experience of knowledge to those who need it. Mental health is a mental crisis that’s often overlooked. Knowing there is help is what our culture needs, being involved to provide guidance is the best felling ever.”

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

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