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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund, 303-426-8900,

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund, 720-214-2569,

The American Indian College Fund Awards Four Native American Scholars with Grant Funding for Community Leadership Projects

Denver, Colo.—December 8, 2020Four Native American college student scholarhave been awarded funding for leadership projects to create positive change in their communities by the American Indian College Fund. All projects will be completed throughout the 2020-21 academic year.  

The Ford Motor Company Fund financially supported three tribal college student projects through the 2020-2021 Ford College Community Challenge (C3). The College Fund has partnered with the Ford C3 program for five years to promote innovation in student-led sustainable community development projects nationwide. Additional funding from The Lilly Endowment Inc.’s $1.5 million grant for the Employable Graduate Pathways Program financed the fourth project for a Native American student attending a traditional college. The Lilly Foundation has worked with the College Fund for more than 20 years to support Native student success through academic progressioncareer readinessand building institutional intellectual capacity. 

Four leadership development projects were selected from proposals submitted by the College Fund’s newest cohort of student ambassadorsThe winning program proposals were selected by a committee comprised of American Indian College Fund staff and former American Indian College Fund student ambassadors Tada Vargas (Oglala Lakota College and University of Arizona), Adam Schulz (College of Menominee Nation), and Jasmine Neosh (College of Menominee Nation). Awardees were chosen based on the projects criteria of demonstrated intentionality, care, and the potential for community impact 

The students and American Indian College Fund 2020-21 Community Leadership Projects selected include:

  • Kimberlee Blevins is a member of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation (Three Afffiliated Tribes) and an environmental science major at Sitting Bull College. She is coordinating community clean-up projects across tribal college and university communities.  
  • Jacob McArthur is a member of the White Earth Ojibwe Tribe and a business major who earned an associate degree at White Earth Tribal and Community College and a current student at Bemidji State University. He is creating a documentary of fall and winter cultural traditions of his tribal nation.  
  • Amanda Ruiz is member of the Sicangu Oyate tribe and a natural science, pre-engineering major at Oglala Lakota CollegeShis teaching students to identify and use traditional plants significant to the Teton Sioux of the Black Hills and surrounding areas. 
  • Christopher Villaruel is a member of the Ajumawi (Pit River) tribe and a forest hydrology major at Humboldt State University in California. He is developing a youth workshop series for the Pit River and Redding communities focused on traditional language, history, and music. 


About Ford Motor Company FundAs the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund’s mission is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better. Working with dealers and nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries, Ford Fund provides access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential. Since 1949, Ford Fund has invested more than $2 billion in programs that support education, promote safe driving, enrich community life and encourage employee volunteering. For more information, visit or join us at @FordFund on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. 

About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 31 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $9.25 million in scholarships to American Indian students in 2019-20, with scholarships, program, and community support totaling over $237 million since its inception. 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 

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

Dina Horwedel, 303-430-5350 

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