FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: , Public Education Director, 303-426-8900
April 2, 2014
The Department of the Interior today announced that quarterly transfers of funds to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund are set to begin this week with a first transfer of nearly $580,000 to the American Indian College Fund. The Scholarship Fund was authorized by the historic Cobell Settlement, approved in November 2012, to provide financial assistance through annual scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training.
“The Scholarship Fund is an important tool to help students across Indian Country pursue higher education opportunities imperative to their success in the workplace and to the creation of the next generation of Indian leaders,” said Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, who helped negotiate the Cobell Settlement on behalf of the Department. “While there was much debate in the settlement negotiations, there was no debate among the parties that we must do something to support Indian students in their aspirations and dreams.”
The American Indian College Fund (College Fund), headquartered in Denver, Colorado, will administer the Scholarship Fund and has extensive experience in providing students the resources to succeed in tribal colleges and technical and vocational certifications as well as traditional undergraduate and graduate programs. A five-member Board of Trustees is responsible for the oversight and supervision of the College Fund’s administration of the Scholarship Fund and for developing and adopting a charter outlining its role and responsibilities. The College Fund is working with the Cobell Board of Trustees to stand up its operation in concert with this first transfer of funds. Twenty percent of the Fund’s portfolio will be directed to support graduate students through the American Indian Graduate Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the College Fund, shared that the Cobell Scholarship Program will help meet the tremendous financial need for educational support for American Indian and Alaska Native students across the country, many of whom live in poverty. “We are honored to remember the vision of Elouise Cobell that the Cobell Scholarship Fund would be used to lift up tribal students and their families,” she said.
Sam Deloria, Director of American Indian Graduate Center, said, “The American Indian Graduate Center, Inc., is pleased to be a part of the administration of the Cobell Scholarship Fund. We look forward to this tribute to the work of Ms. Cobell helping many students in the coming years, and we want to thank all who had a role in including us. We also look forward to a continuing close working relationship with the American Indian College Fund.”