School Funding

Klobuchar and Smith Secure Major Federal Funding to Expand College Access for Native American and Alaska Native Students

Funding will expand Saint Paul College program designed to support the academic and social success of Native American and Alaska Native students

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) have secured $500,000 in federal funding to expand a program at Saint Paul College focused on providing academic and social support to students Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Specifically, the funding will help expand the Four Directions Pathway program at Saint Paul’s College. The program is designed to promote college access and success for Native American and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students through a culturally relevant lens. In 2020, AI/AN communities in Minnesota recorded a graduation rate of 27.5%, well below the state’s 70% goal. Improving access to education for these communities will help ensure a skilled workforce in the local economy and strengthen the vitality of the state.

“All students deserve the chance to pursue higher education, but too often and for too long, Native American students have faced obstacles in their transition to college,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This funding will be critical to improving access to post-secondary education for Native American students and closing the opportunity gap that our tribal communities face.”

“This federal funding will help Indigenous students access and excel in higher education while strengthening our local workforce – a win-win situation. said Senator Smith. “I am proud of our work to secure this funding, which will promote university access and success for Indigenous students and help build a strong and diverse workforce in and around St. Paul.

“We are grateful for the support of Senators Klobuchar and Smith. This Congressional-led funding will have an immediate impact on the Four Directions Pathway Initiative which is designed to help American Indian and Native communities in Minnesota succeed by developing supports for students and families from high school to college, said Deidra Peaslee, president of Saint Paul’s College. “We appreciate our local partners including the Saint Paul Public Schools Indian Education Program (SPPS), 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.”

Klobuchar and Smith have been actively involved in securing this federal funding for projects benefiting communities across the state through a process called “Congression Directed Spending” (CDS). During the CDS process, Klobuchar and Smith reviewed project proposals and advocated for funding in close coordination with leaders across the state.

Projects are expected to receive funding in the coming months.