Native American scholarship program the right approach

Minot Daily News congratulates 11 Native North Dakota college students who are recipients of a smart new scholarship designed to help improve the well-being of Native communities.

Thanks to the American Indian College Fund and the United Health Foundation, these 11 college students are getting help as the first recipients of scholarships offered through the foundation’s Tribal Wellness Scholarship Program.

The program is designed to create a pipeline of Native American mental health and substance abuse professionals to help those suffering from the effects of substance abuse to rebuild their lives while ensuring that their tribal heritage and traditions continue for the next generation.

The pilot program was funded through a $360,000 grant from the United Health Foundation to American Indian College Fund in May. It includes scholarships, mentoring, academic support, job training and research opportunities. Thanks is due the United Health Foundation and the American Indian College Fund.

The smart scholarship program seeks to empower members of Native communities to return and then help those communities. Besides helping enable students to pursue their goals of helping others, the program also will introduce into communities professionals with the awareness, sensitivity and familiarity to best pursue their important service objectives. An argument can easily be made that this is the most effective way to deliver services, with empowered and motivated professionals inside a particular community.

Behavioral health and addiction issues remain tremendous challenges in our state’s Native communities and new and innovative initiatives offer hope for a better tomorrow.