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Grant Program Set Up To Help Tribal Colleges

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Washington--Stating that the welfare of Native Americans "generally has been overlooked" by philanthropies, the MacArthur Foundation has begun a $5.7-million grant program to support the nation's tribally controlled community colleges.

The initiative, which was scheduled to be announced here Nov. 13, will provide 3 million to 18 of the nation's 24 tribally controlled colleges as well as more than $2.7 million in grants and loans to a variety of organizations that provide scholarships and other assistance to those schools.

Among the organizations receiving grants is the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, of Boulder, Colo., which sponsors summer workshops in junior- and senior-high schools to improve student skills in mathematics and science.

Adele Simmons, president of the foundation, said in a statement that by undertaking the new initiative, "we hope to set a new course for philanthropic support" of the goals of Native Americans.

The initiative is focused on improving conditions for the tribal colleges, she added, because they provide an "outstanding example of successful self-determination."

According to Ms. Simmons, as many as 86 percent of tribal-college students who transfer to four-year colleges complete their education.

By contrast, she said, 90 percent of the Indian students who begin their college career at non-Indian institutions drop out before graduation.

In a related development, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was scheduled on Nov. 12 to issue a 10-point plan for strengthening the tribal-college system.

According to foundation officials, the report, "Tribal Colleges--Shaping the Future of Native America," is the first to focus national attention on those institutions.

The report recommends that the colleges work more closely with high schools that serve Indian students because "education and respect for native heritage and cultural experience must begin long before the students enter college."

Copies of the report are available for $8 each from Princeton University Press, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, N.J. 08648.--pw

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