ST PAUL- A new bill has been introduced in the Minnesota legislative session that would provide $6 million in funding for the next two years to Tribal Colleges in the state.
The bill, HF-750, is being carried by Representatives Keeler, Becker-Finn, Kozlowski, Frazier, Gomez, Curran, Hanson, and Hollins.
If passed, the bill would require the state to designate money for grants to fund the Leech Lake Tribal College, White Earth Tribal College, and Red Lake Nation Tribal College during the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years. The funds will come from the Office of Higher Education and will be used for the colleges’ general operations and maintenance expenses.
Each year, the colleges will be expected to submit a detailed report of how the funds were spent, and a copy of the college’s most recent audit report to be able to receive that year’s funding.
Leech Lake Tribal College President Helen Zaikina-Montgomery, who testified before the MN Senate Higher Education Committee earlier this month in favor of the bill, says the possibility of receiving this level of funding is a huge deal for the college and that the support from the state and tribe is significant.
“This bill could be super transformative to our college, to have this support from the Tribe and the State shows their belief in our students and their futures,“ said Zaikina-Montgomery.
Zaikina-Montgomery says new changes at the college have increased their budget, like staying open over weekends and adding new cultural activities, such as wellness workshops, workforce and professional development opportunities, and community meals. Tribal Colleges unlike traditional community colleges and four-year colleges are funded only through grants and Bureau of Indian Affairs or Tribal Government fundings.
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson says the band stands behind the college and believes the bill has the possibility to impact the Tribe’s future.
“Education is the foundation of our future, and the Leech Lake Tribal College plays a vital role in providing our young people with the tools they need to succeed. This legislation will not only benefit the college, but it will also benefit our entire community by investing in the education and growth of our next generation of leaders, ” said Jackson.
Minnesota constituents can show support for the bill by mailing letters or emailing their elected representatives and senators asking them to vote in favor of the bill.