Senator Mike Johanns today announced he has signed a letter requesting additional resources for American Indian tribal colleges and universities to upgrade their math and science laboratories. Two of these tribal colleges are located in Nebraska.
Senator Johanns' letter is addressed to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which appropriates funding for the Department of Defense's Minority Institutions Infrastructure Support Program. This program is dedicated to raising the level of science and technology education in schools across the country.
"These resources are critical to ensuring all students are able to compete for jobs in the 21st century and that our country remains competitive in the global economy," Johanns said. "Studies have shown that Native American youths traditionally lag behind their peers in the areas of math, science and technology. Prioritizing the funding for these colleges and universities to improve science and technology programs will pay tremendous dividends for the next generation."
Currently, the Minority Institutions Infrastructure Support Program is funded with $2.6 million. The letter signed by Senator Johanns requests that this number be raised to $3.3 million, the same level as funded in FY02. This funding will provide the resources necessary for projects that set up and expand distance learning networks, install computer-assisted design technology, update engineering labs, and provide important job-training opportunities.
Whereas other educational institutions seek funding from municipalities, counties, and states, tribal colleges rely almost entirely on federal funding to achieve the same goals and bring better educational and job-training opportunities to tribal communities.
Two tribal colleges in Nebraska, Little Priest and Nebraska Indian Community College, are both eligible to compete for funds in 2010 under this program.