Mentoring Native Women Leaders
The Indigenous Visionaries initiative builds upon the American Indian College Fund’s previous work for a number of years developing Native women leaders, through education, mentoring, and networking. Indigenous Visionaries focuses on connecting students at tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) with faculty members in their area of study.
Within their academic disciplines, Indigenous Visionaries fellows will engage in research and programming that builds on and expands their studies, mentored by a tribal college faculty member with expertise in their field. Through this mentoring relationship, fellows will participate in a community project, learn how to address tribal and local issues, understand what it takes to create change in a community, and experience possibilities for a potential career in their field of choice.
The College Fund’s goal is to develop Native women leaders who have a foundation in Indigenous knowledge, culture, and history, and who will bring visionary leadership to Native communities in the future.
Embrey American Indian Women’s Leadership Project
In March 2010 the American Indian College Fund (the Fund) received a grant from the Embrey Family Foundation to initiate a women’s leadership program. The Embrey American Indian Women’s Leadership Project was a four-year leadership program for 20 American Indian women attending tribal colleges who have a high potential for future leadership and the desire to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Through individual and group training sessions and projects, this program is designed to develop participant’s leadership skills to create the next generation of Native female leaders. To provide the resources and foundation needed to help ensure success, participants receive annual scholarships to obtain a bachelor’s degree and annual funds to initiate leadership projects.
Six tribal colleges were identified to participate in the program. The program is limited to select group of tribal colleges in order to support the development of student cohorts at each school. The colleges were selected based on their legacy of strong female leadership, and diversity of geographic regions and degree offerings. Colleges selected include: Cankdeska Cikana Community College (N.D.);College of Menominee Nation (WI); Aaniiih Nakoda College (MT);Northwest Indian College (WA); Sitting Bull College (N.D.); and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (NM).
In 2014, The College Fund developed a more “place-based” model to the Native Women’s leadership program by designing the “Place-Based Leadership and Community Organizing” program. The vision remains the same, to “train and develop the next generation of Native women leaders, with more of a localized approach and mentoring philosophy.” Five of the six original cohorts are continuing their participation and the new TCU to the cohort led by strong female leadership is Diné College (AZ).