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President's Message

There are two Americas today. In the first America, people freely pursue their dreams. The other America barely survives in the shadows of the first, mostly forgotten, on American Indian reservations, where poverty thrives.

We all know about the insidious effects of poverty. But even in times of economic hardship, few Americans grapple with real poverty. With American Indians, the opposite is true. Just look at the facts:

  • Unemployment rates on reservations can be as high as 95%.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Native Americans on reservations live below the federal poverty level.
  • Native youth face some of the lowest high school graduation rates nationwide.
  • Natives have the lowest educational attainment rates of all ethnic and racial groups. Less than 13% of American Indian and Alaska Native earned a college degree, compared to 28% of other racial groups.
  • Poverty is so prevalent on Indian reservations that even young children feel a sense of hopelessness, leading to suicide rates on reservations that are triple or higher than elsewhere, claiming victims as young as eight years old.

But there is hope. At the American Indian College Fund we know the solution to ending poverty is a tribal college education.

In my 30-year career as a tribal educator, my work has been inspired by the vision of the founders of the tribal college movement. These accredited institutions of post-secondary education provide academic, career, and technical curricula to Native people alongside opportunities to learn their language, culture, and history. Tribal colleges are strategically located on or near American Indian reservations, allowing people who cannot afford to leave the reservation the opportunity to get a quality education. Today the American Indian College Fund supports 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities across the country and students from all federally recognized American Indian tribes and all Alaska Natives.

The American Indian College Fund has a 25-year record of success. We recruit, prepare, and provide students with financial access to a post-secondary education while supporting programs and initiatives at the tribal colleges to help them succeed. Thanks to your support, we can turn our backs on poverty and write a future of prosperity for Native Americans.

Pilamaya he, thank you, for your friendship,

Wacinyanpi Win (They Depend on Her)

Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota)
President, American Indian College Fund



"I am inspired by the achievements of our students to seek even greater resources for tribal colleges and their students."

Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota), President and CEO