Program to Give Native Students Access to Tech Fields and Provide Culturally Relevant Computer Science Programming
Denver, Colo.—July 8, 2021– Computer science education provides today’s college students the necessary skills and opportunities to thrive in today’s world. Yet American Indian and Alaska Native peoples are still and have been historically underrepresented in the computer science fields. To remedy that, the American Indian College Fund launched its Tribal College and University Computer Science Initiative to create new and expand existing computer science programs at higher education institutions serving American Indian and Alaska Native students to meet the community and workforce needs of Indigenous communities and to provide career opportunities for Native students in computer science fields.
The four-year initiative will focus on faculty hiring and professional development; developing or enhancing computer science academic programs and curriculum at the TCUs; developing and participating in a community of practice activities; and participating in community engagement, sustained pathways, and/or student support through industry partner relationships.
The College Fund selected the following four applicants to participate in the initiative. The TCUs and their programs include:
- Bay Mills Community College (BMCC), located in Brimley, Michigan. BMCC’s program, Nanda-gikendan Waasimowini (seek to learn computers in Ojibwe), will develop an online Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems with a computer science track that will be accessible across the country. BMCC will hire one additional full-time instructor to develop courses and two adjunct faculty to meet specific course needs. It will also support its current Computer Information Systems department chair/faculty member to obtain a graduate degree and relevant computer science education and training. BMCC students will receive hands-on experience in programming, project design, technical support, and will work to help BMCC create computer science awareness in the community.
- The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will launch its The IAIA Art of Computer Science program. IAIA will create an interdisciplinary computer science environment across degree programs using computer science courses/modules while supporting development of a gaming degree. It will also hire full-time, pro-rata, and adjunct faculty to teach, and contractors to develop computer science curriculum and assist other departments with integration of computer science education across disciplines. To ensure all faculty have proficient computer skills, IAIA will also support professional development for 35 permanent faculty to take basic computer science coursework to integrate computer science concepts and skills into their courses and programs of study. The Institute will implement community engagement projects for students to incorporate computer science education and awareness into their community internships work to help provide their communities with an understanding of the value computers and computer science skills in a culturally relevant way.
- Navajo Technical University (NTU), located in Crownpoint, New Mexico, will launch its CSE@NTU-Computer Science Enhancement at NTU program to enhance current associate degrees in computer science programming by expanding the programs to the Bachelor of Science degree level. NTU will hire one additional full-time computer science faculty member to assist in teaching and developing the program. NTU will also support current computer science faculty and the new hire with professional development opportunities relevant to computer science education and will incorporate speaking opportunities for computer science industry experts and professionals to work with faculty, staff, and students.
- Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in Pablo, Montana will launch its Increasing Computer Science Capacity at Salish Kootenai College program to offer computer science programs through the creation of a one-year certificate of completion in computer programming and to offer enhanced computer science coursework for SKC’s STEM disciplines. SKC will develop a path for the computer programming program’s sustainability through dual-enrollment opportunities for reservation high school students. The college will hire one additional full-time computer science faculty member to support dual-enrollment courses and courses within the proposed one-year certificate program and will support current and new faculty with professional development opportunities in culturally sustaining pedagogy, technical pedagogy, and specialized industry training relevant to computer science education and training. SKC will also host summer coding workshops and develop dual-enrollment computer science courses with at least two reservation high schools to enhance student exposure to computer science education and careers.
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “The self-determination of the Tribal people is closely aligned with our ability to adapt and make use of all the tools of modern society. I am reminded that as Native people that we have always valued using the tools created by others to make our lives better. My colleagues at the College Fund and I agree that computer science is one of those tools. Computer science is foundational to so many aspects of life today. Everything from information technology to entertainment to building a picture of the well-being of our communities is tied to our ability to use computer science to our advantage. We are excited that our TCUs will be able to increase their capacity and open doors to more career opportunities.”
About the American Indian College Fund—The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 31 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $9.25 million in scholarships to American Indian students in 2019-20, with scholarships, program, and community support totaling over $237 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.
Journalists: The American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.
Contact: Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education
American Indian College Fund