The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has awarded an unprecedented three-year, $960,000 gift to California State University, San Bernardino to increase the college-going rates and success of Native American students.
As part of the Native American Enrollment and Achievement Initiative, CSUSB will identify and hire a Director of Tribal Relations dedicated to oversee the implementation of the program. The grant will sponsor two enrollment and outreach coordinators focused on building a pipeline from all high schools statewide to CSUSB, other California State University campuses or a University of California campus; three student mentors to provide guidance to native students enrolled at CSUSB; an academic scholarship; and a summer bridge program geared toward the Native American student population.
“We are extremely proud of our longstanding partnership with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which has played a key role in our becoming a hub for Native American culture and education,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales in announcing the grant during a breakfast gathering for the California Native American Day celebration held on campus on Friday, Sept. 28.
The breakfast featured San Bernardino County Supervisor Chairman James Ramos, who also served as project director of the California Indian Culture Awareness Conference. As part of California Native American Day, during the week, more than 2,500 elementary school students from San Bernardino and Riverside counties came to the CSUSB campus to learn about California Native American culture, history and customs, Ramos said.
The goal of the grant will be to increase Native American student enrollment by 50 percent.
“CSUSB’s commitment to college access extends across the Inland Empire and throughout California,” said Morales. “But we must work harder to engage and recruit disadvantaged student populations who may not have ever considered higher education part of their future. This remarkable grant strengthens our relationship with tribal communities, creating partnerships to encourage and grow Native American enrollment, not only at CSUSB, but across California.”
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena expressed her appreciation for this latest partnership with CSUSB.
“The new Native American Enrollment and Achievement Initiative will expand the university’s capacity to bring Native students to CSUSB, but of equal importance it will work to retain these students until they achieve their educational goals,” Valbuena said. “For nearly 20 years, the span of one generation, CSUSB has played host to programs that have shared the languages, culture and history of San Manuel and other native nations with school-aged children, university students and the public at large. Now we turn our attention to individual Native American students who will come to carry their own legacy forward through educational attainment.”
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has worked closely over the years with CSUSB to support the university. The university’s student union bears the name of Santos Manuel, a tribal leader who in 1866 led the tribe to safety from the San Bernardino Mountains to the valley to escape militia forces that killed many tribal members. The valley eventually became the San Manuel Reservation in the 1890s, which was named in Santos Manuel’s honor; the tribe was recognized as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
As a Minority Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution, CSUSB has continued to identify better ways to reach out to and support underrepresented student populations. This past academic year, the university created the Native American Task Force, which has met three times since May, in order to look at the issues of access and support while enrolled to promote graduation of Native students.
“These young people are key to the future of their families, their communities, and to the Inland Empire,” Morales said. “We are so thankful for our relationship with Chairwoman Valbuena and the entire San Manuel family as we work together to impact future generations of students and their families.”