A commitment of $210,000 was promised by Chancellor White to support an outreach educational program aimed at inspiring Native American youth to take advantage of a post-secondary education. On April 17, Chancellor White hosted the Native American Educational Summit where the new funding measure was announced. The money would come from non-state discretionary resources and would be paid out at $70,000 a year over the next three years.
The Native American Educational Summit provided a venue for Native American community leaders to utilize their shared knowledge and expertise for a common goal: promoting higher enrollment rates among Native American students. “We had a really great turnout. A lot of representatives that work in the field of outreach and experience working with Native people came,” stated Joshua Gonzales, Director of Native American Student Programs.
Native American communities view the substantial monetary commitment as a step in the right direction, and one that will hopefully prompt a college-going mindset among more families. “We’re looking to incorporate more of the surrounding Nations and trying to get them more involved, as well as providing more role models for the youth,” stated Gonzales. “This is something that’s not really been done with the previous Chancellors. It’s been done, but at a micro level, it is slowly gaining momentum and other schools have been pushing and advocating for Native students,” said Gonzalez.
The summit discussed hopes to increase enrollment numbers not only at UC Riverside and across Southern California, but also throughout the entire country. Gonzalez cited drug abuse, violence and diabetes as examples of why current support networks among Native Americans are feeble. The Department of Education and Department of Interior have held similar summits with tribal leaders and Native American educators. One of these national summits is to be held in Lincoln, California later this month.
White informed those in attendance at the summit that it is imperative for every family, child and tribe to have access to the information needed to navigate through the educational system. According to a press release, he called the investment “seed money” that could pose an antidote to the marginalization of Native American people.