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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New grant helps NMSU Bridges Program recruit American Indian students

Urged by the high graduation rates obtained when Native American students attend two-year tribal colleges before transferring to a major university, the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) recently donated $46,120 to the New Mexico State University W.K. Kellogg Bridges Program for American Indians in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

The aim of the NMSU Kellogg Bridges Program is to increase the number of American Indians graduating from four-year institutions. Students are now recruited at the community college level rather than the high school level, after studies revealed that American Indian students are more likely to finish their bachelor's degree if they attend a tribal college first.

Gina Klinekole, NMSU's Bridges project coordinator, said the high retention rates at tribal colleges occur because the community colleges promote "a sense of cultural beliefs including protection, nurturance, wholeness and growth - all of which enhance motivation."

The Bridges Program actively recruits graduates from the four Native American community colleges located in New Mexico -- the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, the Crownpoint Institute of Technology, the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Dine Community College at Shiprock.

The EFA grant will help the program fulfill one of its five main activities: a summer research and education program at NMSU for tribal college faculty members. The program also presents workshops at the tribal colleges, coordinates a three-day orientation for potential tribal college transfer students, assists with support services for transfer students and runs a summer research program that links NMSU faculty mentors with tribal college students.

Klinekole said 12 students are staying on campus this summer and assisting NMSU faculty with research.

The Bridges Program has been in place since 1997, with a $724,064 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Through the Native American Higher Education Initiative, the Kellogg Foundation helps fund 30 Native American tribal colleges and four national Native American organizations. NMSU is one of only three mainstream universities funded through this initiative.

For more information on the NMSU Kellogg Bridges Program, contact Klinekole at (505) 646-3610 or e-mail gklineko@nmsu.edu.