Half-a-million dollars will go to support American Indian and indigenous students and families
Saint Paul, Minn. - March 16, 2022 - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding for local projects benefiting the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Saint Paul College will receive $500,000 to increase postsecondary access and success for American Indian and indigenous students and their families. Senator Smith held a press conference on Monday at Saint Paul College with leaders from the program.
"We are grateful for the support of Senators Klobuchar and Smith," said Dee Dee Peaslee, EdD, Saint Paul College President. "This congressionally-directed funding will make an immediate impact on the Four Directions Pathway initiative which is designed to aid in the success of the American Indian and indigenous communities in Minnesota by developing culturally responsive supports for students and families from high school through college. We appreciate our local partners, including the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Indian Education Program, American Indian Family Center (AIFC), City of Saint Paul Right Track, and MIGIZI. Together, we will work to close the education gap for native students in Minnesota."
"We are excited about this opportunity," said Pepe Wonosikou, Director of Title III at Saint Paul College. "As we strive to close the achievement gap, this funding will increase our capacity to support indigenous students in removing barriers to college readiness, access, and success."
In collaboration with local partners, Saint Paul College piloted the summer bridge program in 2021 as the first step in the Four Directions Pathway Initiative. Four Directions Pathway summer bridge supported a cohort of 12 students planning to enroll at Saint Paul College. The federal funding will allow the program to expand from 12 to 200 students per year as they progress from high school through college.
The goals of the Four Directions Pathways Initiative include:
- Expand culturally relevant student services to span from high school through college.
- Increase college and career readiness of American Indian students.
- Provide native language and supplemental academic programming at Saint Paul College.
- Increase student success as measured by enrollment and retention.
- Contribute to decreasing the achievement gap of American Indian students in Minnesota.
Klobuchar and Smith have been actively involved in securing federal funding for projects benefiting communities across the state through a process called "Congressionally Directed Spending" (CDS). These projects will address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. For a comprehensive list of funded projects and programs please see the following press releases:
Photos from the Press Conference on 3/14/2022 at Saint Paul College, featuring a mural designed by
Thomasina Topbear, a Santee Dakota & Oglala Lakota muralist.
Pictured left to right: Devinder Malhotra (Chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities), Dawn Erlandson (Board Trustee, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities), Brooke Carlson (Council President, City of Rochester), Dr. Anthony Stately (CEO, Native American Community Clinic), Sharon Smith-Akinsanya (CEO, Rae Mackenzie Group), U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Louis King (CEO, Summit Academy OIC), Jay Cowles (Board Chair, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities), Wendy Roberson (Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Saint Paul College), Lachelle Cunningham (Board Co-Chair, Neighborhood Development Center) and Mihailo "Mike" Temali (Founder & CEO, Neighborhood Development Center).