Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) have played a significant role in providing higher education access to Native American students. These students, often overlooked in higher education, find places to learn, thrive, and achieve their goals while maintaining and celebrating their deep, rich, distinct cultural identity. TCUs also contribute greatly to the communities and nations in which they are located. Here are 10 examples of TCU programs that focus on community outreach and service.
Diné College School of Public Health has partnered with the Community Health Representatives (CHR)/OUTREACH Program to implement public health initiatives. It is through CHR that the college is able to provide awareness to Navajo communities about health. The instructional program ensures that community health representatives have the same knowledge base and that they all have had an overview of the basic concepts and principles of public health. These highly skilled community members now have the opportunity to integrate all of their health care experience into a public health perspective. This particular joint certificate program is specifically tailored to the public health needs and concerns of the Navajo Nation. Presenting this information in a culturally appropriate way is part of the mission and work of Diné College.
Haskell’s and University of Kansas’ speech-language-hearing faculty have worked together since 1990 to help meet a need in Native American communities for professionals in speech-language pathology and audiology.
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) has collaborated with the SEVA Foundation to create a unique program designed to provide economic opportunities and prevent unnecessary blindness among American Indians. As part of the SIPI program domestically, ICU is providing 600 pairs of eyeglasses and sunglasses to impoverished Native American communities in New Mexico. SIPI works with Seva and will train 25 American Indians, most of which are women, to be top tier vision technicians and licensed opticians. This training is at no cost to the participants and benefits the high demand in impoverished American Indian communities in or near the Albuquerque area.
Bay Mills Community College implemented a Food and Fitness Initiative to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles. The vision for the Bay Mills Food and Fitness Initiative is the development of a comprehensive community-based lifestyle improvement program that incorporates personal wellness and gardening education and activities as means of improving the wellness of program participants and their families.
Earth Lodge Movement is a new organization on the Fort Berthold reservation. All members are of Native American tribes and plan to build a living Earth Lodge Community of three homes and one central community/education lodge, combining traditional earth lodge design with modern green energy and architecture. The earth lodge community will help mother earth directly through sustainable living for the founding families, as well as being an educational model for others communities, and raising the environmental consciousness on the Fort Berthold reservation. Fort Berthold Community College is one of the key partners of the initiative.
Leech Lake Tribal College established “Mino- ayaawigaming” (The Wellness Center). The mission of the Mino-ayaawigaming is to improve the health of the students and their families while providing students with a safe, confidential environment where they can seek advice and ask questions. The wellness center also has an extension and community education component, offering a wide range of free and low-cost classes in which participants gain knowledge they can take home with them and put to use. Examples range from learning traditional cultural skills such as moccasin making, beading, and pottery, to practical workshops on nutrition, healthy cooking, seed saving, and much more. Leech Lake Tribal College Extension programming has an added emphasis on sustainability and food security as part of our overall goal to help families make healthier choices and strengthen their communities.
Oglala Lakota College initiated the Lakota Language Immersion Childcare program in 2012. What led to Oglala Lakota College’s decision to embark on the Lakota Language Preservation Program was the realization that many of the young people were not speaking the language. The express goal of the language nest is to use a full-immersion childcare setting to revive fluent Lakota use among young people as a catalyst for overall revitalization of the language across Lakota Country.
Chief Dull Knife College in collaboration with the American Indian Housing Initiative built a much needed childcare space for students and staff of Chief Dull Knife College. At the same time, the space provided a chance for young parents to learn about how to best care for their infants and toddlers. Constructed out of straw bales, it uses energy-saving features such as day lighting, cellulose insulation, and radiant floor heating.
NWIC is in the midst of a campaign to boost its graduation rates with the help of Achieving the Dream, a national initiative aimed to help more students earn degrees and certifications. The initiative helps colleges collect and interpret data in order to increase student success and graduation rates. NWIC’s community nature goes hand-in-hand with goals of Achieving the Dream, which requires participating colleges to gather input from their communities to help identify barriers for students and come up with ways to help them.
The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) is dedicated to examining sustainability issues and applying them to the Menominee model of sustainable development. The purpose of the Sustainable Development Institute is to ensure the principles of sustainability committed to by the College of Menominee Nation.