Four tribal community colleges in the state were awarded with nearly $1 million in combined grants through the Rural Development Tribal College Grant Program, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday.
United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Trotten, Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt and Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates were each awarded with a $220,000 grant to improve their respective infrastructure, technological capabilities and quality of life for students.
The United Tribes Technical College, which offers adult certified and degree programs and elementary education, will use the money to help expand and remodel the cafeteria, which is more than 45 years old. Beyond its age, with a student body of approximately 1,100 adults and 400 youth a 173 percent increase since 2002 the facility can no longer meets the needs of the student body.
"We currently have people waiting a half-block or one block outside the door," said David Gipp, president of the college. "This grant will afford us the opportunity to begin to address the needs of students in terms of food (prep) and space, and will also allow us to bring in state-of-the-art food (equipment) technology."
The college's population explosion, which Gipp said was a combination of several factors overall population growth among Native Americans in the U.S. and in particular its under-25 segment, and the college's unique dual adult and youth education programs and other educational opportunities has caused UTTC to rapidly expand in recent years. The college recently added four modular buildings for its elementary education program and will break ground Tuesday on a new science, math and technology center that is scheduled to be completed by October 2010.
"All of these different activities are part of our overall effort to address the growing population and qualitative care of our students," Gipp said. "With more numbers comes more challenges, but we welcome them."
Also experiencing massive growth is Turtle Mountain Community College, which is expecting record enrollment for fall with more than 725 students. To accommodate the increase, the college recently completed building a new Student Union building and Career and Technical Education facility, but they ran out of money before they were able to construct a street to connect the CTE building to the main thoroughfare on campus.
The grant will help change that.
"The building is being used by our construction and technology program students to build full-size, energy-efficient, sustainable homes," said president Jim Davis. "When the homes are finished we want to move them out, but to do that safely we need a paved street that is solidly constructed. The grant will help us do that."
Davis said he would like to start construction on the street as soon as possible.
Cankdeska Cikana Community College is also using the grant money to expand and enhance the parking lots and roadways throughout campus.
With a new childhood development center, gymnasium and amphitheater coming within months of each other, Cynthia Lindquist, president of the college, said it was vital to get the pavement project going so that students and community members will have access to the new buildings by the time all of them are completed.
"It's nice to know that we will be able to get at least a portion of the construction done, but we are going to need an additional $100,000 to $200,000 to finish it up. I'm not worried though, we will get it done," she said.
The USDA Rural Development Tribal College Grants are provided to land-grant institutions for education and outreach programs to help provide essential services and meet the needs of residents in Native American Communities. In all, 22 tribal colleges in nine states were selected to receive $4.7 million in grants.
In all, 22 tribal colleges in nine states across the U.S. were awarded more than $4.7 million through the program.