Northwest Indian College was recently awarded a $400,000 challenge grant by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for campus technology improvements, designed to help bring the college’s technology into the 21st Century.
The grant will support campuswide technology infrastructure at the college’s main Lummi campus and improve distance learning capabilities throughout its six full-service extended campuses at reservations in Washington and Idaho.
The college must raise another $325,000 to unlock the full challenge grant and to complete $725,000 in technology improvements.
“Access to technology in rural areas and reservations is more limited than most places in the U.S. This grant will help create more technological access for our students and the communities we serve,” Cheryl Crazy Bull, NWIC’s president, said in a May 10 press release. “We recognize that this is a substantial gift from the Murdock Trust, and we are honored to have the Trust join us as a partner in Native higher education.”
The technology improvements are part of college’s $44 million capital expansion, through which the college is creating a four-year university and sanctuary of learning for Native students.
To date, $36.6 million has been pledged and seven new buildings have opened, including an early learning and daycare center and a natural resources laboratory.
The college is also now awarding its first four-year degree—a bachelor’s in native environmental science.
Site work is currently underway for three additional facilities: a library and technology building, the Salish Sea Research Center and the Coast Salish Institute, which is also a recipient of a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
More than 75 architects, construction companies and other vendors from throughout the Puget Sound region have been at work since construction began in fall 2005.
The school is receiving support from the federal government, tribes throughout the country and from the region’s private foundations, including the Murdock Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Norcliffe Foundation, the Puget Sound Energy Foundation and the St. Luke’s Foundation.
“It’s obvious the people of the Pacific Northwest value the role that higher education plays in lifting up our Native communities,” Crazy Bull said. “Our expansion welcomes everyone’s participation on many levels —from higher education support to those interested in making a difference in Native science, literacy, cultural preservation, and workforce training.”