National Native Scholarship Providers Statement on Affirmative Action: Concerns for Continued Native Student Access to Higher Education and Programs
June 29, 2023, Denver, Colo.— The four organizations that comprise the National Native Scholarships Providers (the American Indian College Fund, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Cobell Scholarship Program administered by Indigenous Education, Inc., and Native Forward Scholars Fund) are disheartened by the June 29th Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action.
As President Biden shared in his message to the nation today, “We cannot let the decision be a permanent setback for the country.” Affirmative action provided worthy American Indian and Alaska Natives and other diverse students with the opportunity for an affordable higher education. Accomplished Native students deserve and have a right to access an affordable higher education, and we will not allow today’s decision to reverse the decades of education progress that affirmative action helped talented people to achieve.
We affirm that our students are citizens of Tribal Nations, thus possessing political status and citizenship rooted in the government-to-government relations of Tribes to the federal government. Their citizenship is separate from and woven with their Indigenous identities. Indigenous identity (American Indian and Alaska Native) is an identity that often provides pathways and supports for higher education access and success and can, therefore, be impacted by this ruling.
We also want to share a message with the youth in our many Indigenous nations across the country: Do not be discouraged. You belong where you dream to be. Your dreams are the fuel that will lead you to accomplishing your potential. You are worthy, you are more than deserving, and we are here for you, because we are depending upon your brilliance to lead and innovate in the future.
The NNSP calls upon higher education institutions, policymakers, supporters of Indigenous education, and students to ensure our nation’s campuses are accessible to all, our students are welcome, and Native cultures and contributions are embraced. The United States is a better country when all voices are represented and included throughout all of society—including education.
About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 33 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $15.5 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2020-21. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $259 million in scholarships, programmatic and community 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 https://www.collegefund.org.
About AISES — Advancing Indigenous People in STEM—For 45 years, AISES has focused on substantially increasing the representation of Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in critically needed STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) disciplines. This robust nonprofit currently supports individual student and professional members across the U.S. and Canada through chartered college and university chapters, professional chapters, tribal chapters, and affiliated PK-12 schools. Members benefit from diverse STEM-focused programming that supports careers and promotes student success and workforce development in multiple crucial areas. To learn more visit https://www.aises.org/.
About The Cobell Scholarship Program, Indigenous Education, Inc.—Created in 2016 for the express purpose to administer the Cobell Scholarship Program, Indigenous Education, Inc. provides highly competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities for Native vocational, undergraduate, and graduate students through empowering them with an impactful scholarship experience designed to support their success in higher education. The overarching mission and vision of Indigenous Education, Inc. is to support American Indian and Alaska Native student success. Since the program’s beginning, it has supported over 4000 students with more than $35,000,000 in scholarships to attend more than 400 colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more about, Ms. Cobell, IEI and the Cobell Scholarship, visit https://cobellscholar.org.
About Native Forward Scholars Fund—As the nation’s longest-running scholarship provider for Native students, we have awarded over $350 million in direct scholarships since 1969 and have empowered over 20,000 students from over 500 Tribes in all 50 states. Native Forward is committed to creating an impact in Native communities by providing access to quality education for Native students. We believe higher education deepens our transformative impact on every part of society. Native Forward invests 95% of our resources directly into Native students’ higher education experience at 1,700+ institutions across the U.S. in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs.
Our goal is to create opportunities for success for all Native people. Knowledge and experience are powerful tools that can advance and preserve our way of life. By honoring our history, we are creating our own brilliant future. We are Native Forward Scholars Fund. For more information, visit https://www.nativeforward.org.
Journalists — The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund. Native Forward Scholars Fund does not use the acronym NFSF. On second reference, please use the Native Forward.
Dina Horwedel, J.D.
Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund, 303-426-8900,
Johnny Poolaw, Ph.D.
Director of Student Success, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, 720-758-9725, firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Marketing and Communications, Native Forward Scholars Fund,
John L. Garland, Ph.D., CRC
Director, Research and Student Success, The Cobell Scholarship Program, Indigenous Education, Inc.,