OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Enduring Legacies Reservation-Based Project, a partnership of The Evergreen State College, Grays Harbor College and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, has received an $800,000 award from Lumina Foundation for Education. Lumina Foundation is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation dedicated to expanding access and success in education beyond high school.
The three-year Enduring Legacies Project seeks to increase college access and success for reservation-based Native American students through more cohesive degree and transfer programs, stronger student support services, and more engaging curriculum provided by an innovative multi-institutional and tribal partnership.
The project partners worked together to establish a hybrid distance learning Associate of Arts degree through Grays Harbor College that is fully transferable to four-year colleges. The online courses will be offered via WashingtonOnLine (WAOL), which serves community college students throughout Washington state. The AA program combines culturally appropriate online courses with community-based instruction. Faculty at community colleges throughout the state developed the online courses. Among the cooperating institutions that agreed to present proprietary courses through Grays Harbor College and WAOL are: North Seattle Community College, Skagit Valley College, South Puget Sound Community College and South Seattle Community College.
Upon completion of the AA degree, students may transfer to Evergreen’s upper division Reservation-Based Program, which serves six tribal communities: Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Quinault and Skokomish. This BA program features a culturally relevant liberal arts curriculum taught on-site in the participating tribal communities.
Evergreen’s Academic Vice President and Provost, Don Bantz, said he sees great potential in the new partnership. “This could be a prototype for Indian education,” said Bantz. “It’s a combination of distance learning and high touch learning. Evergreen is grateful to the Lumina Foundation for supporting our continuing efforts to develop curriculum and facilitate partnerships among the tribes, government agencies and other educational institutions.”
The Lumina Foundation grant funds extensive student and faculty support services, including a program coordinator and on-site study leaders for the AA program and annual faculty development workshops for both the AA and BA programs.
In addition, the project partners will work in close collaboration with tribal communities to develop specific curricular units, or case studies, based on key issues of concern to tribes. Case study topic areas to be developed in collaboration with a tribal advisory board might include topics such as restoration of natural resources, indigenous research, tribal self-governance, education, health, and economic development. Five colleges have agreed to field test these case studies: Salish Kootenai College, Northwest Indian College (both two-year tribal colleges), Grays Harbor College, Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, and Bainbridge Graduate Institute.
Upon completion, the case studies will initially be used in Evergreen’s undergraduate programs and in the college’s Master of Public Administration Tribal Governance Program.
Lumina Foundation is one of the many organizations scheduled to participate in a special celebration event recognizing the Reservation-Based Transfer Program in Native American Studies that is offered through Grays Harbor College and Evergreen. The celebration will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. at the Quinault Beach Resort in Ocean Shores. The gathering will honor the program that represents a partnership among several tribes and colleges in the state of Washington. The event is open to the public.