Education is an important tool to increase the social mobility of any individual, especially for underserved populations. When it comes to recognized members of Native American tribes, the gap in inequity is significant, and some states are trying to address the problem.
The state of Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of Native American degree attainment, especially compared to other states (24.63%), and now with a grant of $1.5 million from the U.S Department of Education’s Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) program, the goal is to improve upon those numbers even more. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, as well as other Native American tribes, will hopefully significantly benefit from this federal grant.
The NASNTI program is meant to provide assistance through the funding of programs for Native American and low-income students at educational institutions with at least a 10% enrollment of Native American students. Eastern is an example of this, as last year 29% of all students enrolled at Eastern identified as Native American.
Here’s what this title III grant’s funding will go towards:
- Increasing student retention
- Improving graduation rates
- Helping students to develop skills that are marketable in today’s economic market
This is what Eastern Oklahoma State College President, Dr. Janet Wansick had to say about NASNTI awarding this grant to Eastern:
Eastern’s service area lies in the heart of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and our institution is home to many students from other Native American tribes.
Dr. Wasnsick continued:
This NASNTI grant is a wonderful opportunity to improve our existing programs, add culturally-responsive teaching strategies, and increase our students’ opportunities to succeed. We are honored to receive this significant grant and we greatly appreciate the continued support we receive through our partnerships with local tribal leaders.”
In reference to what this grant funding would go towards at Eastern, Wansick said that the grant will allow for Eastern to revise 31 different currently offered courses, using more active learning as well as culturally-responsive strategies in turns of instruction.
The goal is to help faculty identify and include student’s cultural experiences in all aspects of teaching and learning, and help faculty prepare to be able to accomplish this.
In addition to this, funding will also be allocated to create a program called Native Americans Who Code summer program, to help encourage Native Americans to commuter science programs. This program will include four complementary courses and will lead to a computer coding certificate upon completion.
The last thing that this grant will go towards funding is creating a new learning commons and interactive classroom in the existing library on the Wilburton campus. This learning commons will contain three private study rooms and a tutoring room for both individual and small-group work.