In Michigan, only 14.2 percent of Native Americans or Alaska Natives who are 25 years of age or older have received a bachelor’s degree, compared to the statewide average of 28.1 percent. The goal of the Pokagon Band is to have at least 60 percent of its workforce obtain the necessary knowledge, skills, and credentials demanded within the Pokagon Band economy by 2025.
The Pokagon Band Enrollment Office reports the population is more than 5,900 citizens, with 2,509 residing in the Restoration Act service area of Michiana. The largest concentrations of Pokagon citizens reside in Dowagiac, Hartford, and Benton Harbor, Michigan, as well as the South Bend/Mishawaka area of Indiana.
Andrews University offers two scholarships for Pokagon citizens and members of citizen households. The Andrews University-Native American Higher Education Scholarship is available to all enrolled Pokagon Band students and their family members, both immediate native and non-native. The Enhanced Andrews University-Native American Higher Education Scholarship offers fully free tuition to two eligible students. Native Americans enrolled in other tribes may also qualify for the scholarships, although priority will be given to Pokagon Band students.
Scholarship applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Confirmed U.S. SAT or ACT scores and/or
- Confirmed U.S. cumulative GPA (2.5 and above) or equivalent (following the conclusion of the sixth semester for academy or high school)
As part of this initiative, Andrews University will offer three college-level courses—Math, English, and Stress Management—in a year-long cohort education model, beginning in the fall of 2021, on the Pokagon Band campus or remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, as requested by Pokagon Band.
Students may also opt to register to attend the Andrews University main campus directly for the Fall 2021 semester and beyond. When students are enrolled on the main campus for their coursework, they are required to meet both academic and co-curricular requirements.
In developing the initiatives of the Title III grant, Andrews University and the Pokagon Band aim to increase the number of Native American students enrolled at Andrews from eight to twenty each year for five years and beyond. Within the increase in enrollment, Andrews and the Pokagon Band would like to grow the number of Native American students participating in STEM disciplines as well.
Andrews and the Pokagon Band also hope to improve career readiness in 10 percent of Native American students by providing a cohesive, demand-driven, job skills training and career development system that focuses on client-centered career pathways. In addition, this partnership plans to provide job training to at least 15 Native American adults each year within the Pokagon Band community and increase the skill levels of Pokagon citizens, spouses, and custodial parents in order to meet the needs of the community partners.
For more information on opportunities at Andrews University for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, please contact Joseph Avance, Title III student success recruiter and advisor, at [email protected], and Padma P. Tadi Uppala, Title III project director and chair of the School of Population Health, Nutrition & Wellness, at [email protected]
Compiled by Padma T. Uppala, Title III project director and chair of the School of Population Health, Nutrition & Wellness, and Gillian Panigot, communication manager and FOCUS editor