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New grants strengthen Indigenous students' success, access at Fort Lewis College

Durango— A $3.75 million Title III grant and two philanthropic grants, totaling $113,000, will support Indigenous student success, increase access to school materials, and launch a Native American College Day at Fort Lewis College. The pre-orientation program Native Skyway for Success is among the programs that will receive additional funding.

The grants will help amplify FLC’s reconciliation work focused on student-centered programming that addresses equity gaps in graduation and upholds FLC’s responsibilities as a Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institution, said Heather Shotton, vice president of Diversity Affairs at FLC. 

“As a Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institution, Fort Lewis College is focusing on providing our Indigenous students with the tools and resources they need to have a successful college career,” she said. “That also means that we as an institution need to be prepared to serve Indigenous students in ways that acknowledge and celebrate their strengths and culture.”   

The new funding includes:  

  • A $3.75 million over five-year Title III Native American-Serving, Non-Tribal Institution federal grant to support the San Juan College/Fort Lewis College POWER Project. The Pathways for Opportunity, Wellbeing, Equity, and Relationships Project is designed to serve under-resourced students through culturally responsive programs, academic support, and a sense of social and identity-safe belonging.   
    “We want students to have multiple ways to find their passions and strengths in what they’re learning and progress through their education,” said Michelle Bonanno, director of FLC’s Academic Hub.    
    The grant will allow FLC to expand the Maymester program and the number of participants in Summer Bridge programs to include transfer students while providing financial resources to pay Indigenous student mentors.    

  • A $63,000 gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians based in southern California. The funds will support the Native Skyways to Success pre-Orientation program that connects students with faculty, staff, and Indigenous peer mentors to build community, find a support network, and develop relevant success skills before the school begins each year.    
    The gift will also provide resources for FLC’s Native American Center to increase peer mentoring support and student access to school materials, like textbooks, laptops, and calculators. Portions of the gift help launch a Native American College Day to introduce Indigenous students and their families to the college experience.   
    Located in southern California, part of the SMBMI mission is “inspiring our future through education.” SMBMI is the strongest philanthropic arm of any Tribal Nation in the country, awarding more than $350 million since 2003.    

    "We are honored to partner with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and grateful for this generous first-ever gift, a pivotal investment in the success and empowerment of Native American students at FLC. This contribution supports vital programs, strengthening the educational foundation and sense of community for Indigenous students, and expands our network of supporters for this important work nationally." 

  • A $50,000 unrestricted gift from Colorado Trust. This gift will support FLC’s reconciliation efforts through the Center for Indigenous Research, Culture, and Language (CIRCL), an academic research center connecting faculty, staff, students, and communities working across Native American and Indigenous Studies.   
    The CIRCL Center will focus on a three-prong approach that includes Research by amplifying scholarly work on topics important to Native American and Indigenous communities and supporting Indigenous student research; Culturally responsive faculty and staff education that improves understanding of Indigenous students and communities and improving cultural knowledge and worldviews; Language, acting as an Indigenous language hub supporting language revitalization through pedagogy and language-specific events and programming.  

Learn more about FLC’s work on our FLC’s Reconciliation page or visit FLC’s Foundation website. 

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