College Spark grant strengthens community, technical college-tribal community ties
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Efforts to strengthen ties between Washington's community and technical colleges and tribal communities received a boost recently from College Spark Washington. The education non-profit in late January awarded $180,000 to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to support formation of the Washington State Community and Technical Colleges American Indian Indigenous Advisory Board. The advisory board is charged with:
- Increasing professional development opportunities for college staff and faculty
- Adding and strengthening American Indian and Indigenous Studies programs at colleges
- Expanding career and technical education focused on the needs of tribes
- Improving services for Native American students
"All students, faculty, staff, and tribal communities will benefit from this unique partnership," Lynn Palmanteer-Holder, director of tribal relations and curriculum development at the State Board, said. "Our goal is to eliminate American Indian/Alaska Native educational opportunity gaps, raise awareness of historical burdens and tackle contemporary problems."
Washington's 34 community and technical colleges during the 2021-22 school year served nearly 8,400 students who identified as American Indian/Alaska Native, about 4% of students.
The advisory board, which kicked off its work in late February, consists of representatives of Washington's tribal and tribal education organizations in addition to representatives of the community and technical college system. Board members expect training and recommendations to be ready by January 2023.
Board members are aligning their work with the State Board's vision statement: "Leading with racial equity, our colleges maximize student potential and transform lives within a culture of belonging that advances racial, social, and economic justice in service to our diverse communities."
College Spark Washington awarded the funds as part of its Education Equity Fund. The fund is designed to dismantle barriers to equity in education for students in high schools and at community and technical colleges.