Giving Compass' Take:

• Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) are substantially publicly underfunded, and communities are usually unable to provide financial resources and operations for these institutions to sustain themselves. 

• TCUs are not just for education, but they also serve as cultural hubs and critical avenues of support for students and families.  How can donors help with funding these institutions? 

• Read about Native American students' difficult path to college.

As students return to college this fall, Americans committed to racial equity and justice must awaken to the situation beyond the walls of their own institutions and alma maters. As usual, challenges facing predominantly white institutions are dominating public dialogue, Congressional hearings and dinner conversations.

Meanwhile, significant threats to Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), lifelines to rural and disenfranchised Native American communities across the nation, are barely discussed.

This is especially problematic given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. In May, the Navajo Nation eclipsed New York and New Jersey for the highest per capita Covid-19 rate in the nation. American Indian and Alaskan Native people in states such as New Mexico and Wyoming were experiencing infections at five to ten times the rate of the general population.

As we work towards an inclusive national recovery, we must remember that the nation’s 37 TCUs are more than educational institutions – they are community and intellectual hubs, and critical avenues of support and opportunity for the nearly 100,000 students they serve. Their multifaceted missions are enduring and essential; these institutions are focused on increasing college attainment for Native Americans, nation-building and counteracting the deleterious and lasting effects government-forced assimilation.

Most TCUs operate in extremely rural settings in the Midwest and Southwest, where some students must hitchhike more than 40 miles just to get to class. Many offer much-needed internet service, providing access to some of the 35 percent of tribal land residents who do not have broadband service.

Read the full article about tribal colleges and universities by Cheryl Crazy Bull and Sara Goldrick-Rab at The Hechinger Report.