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WCSD awarded $3.8 million to support Native American students prepare for college, careers

Directory signage at UNR that mentions which room the Dean’s Future Scholars program is located.
Jose Davila IV
/
KUNR Public Radio
WCSD will partner with UNR’s Dean’s Future Scholars to include Native American students in its summer programming.

The U.S. Office of Indian Education has awarded the Washoe County School District almost $3.8 million to help its Native American students prepare for college and their careers.

The district will mainly use the funding to hire six new staffers to advise and support Native American students. Four of those staffers will work as mentors for the students and their parents and will be able to meet year-round.

Fawn Hunter runs the school district’s Native American Culture and Education program. She says the current mentorship structure for Native American students isn’t serving their needs.

“There’s so much more flexibility in these positions versus a part-time staff that we could barely afford within our current program,” said Hunter. “This has opened the doors for so much more for our students as far as getting ready for college and career.”

The program will focus on middle and high school students who have filed a 506 form showing their tribal affiliations with the district. There are about 400 middle and high school students with tribal affiliation on record. There are about 2,000 students who self-identify as Native American in the district as a whole.

The money will also allow the district to pay for college trips to in-state public institutions, as well as out-of-state tribal colleges, providing students with an understanding of the opportunities available to them.

The district has also partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Dean’s Future Scholars program to open spots for Native American students during the summer program.

“We have a long history of partnering with the Native American community, usually from rural areas, but this is the first time where we’ll be able to really focus the efforts in Native American students here in Washoe County attending Washoe County schools,” said Manuel Ortiz, assistant director of Dean’s Future Scholars.

The summer program, which takes place on the university’s campus, includes an enrichment and STEM education component for middle schoolers and academic credit opportunities for high schoolers.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Jose Davila IV reports on K-12 education with a focus on Latino students and families in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. He is also a first-year Report for America corps member. Es bilingüe, su familia es de Puerto Rico, y ama los tostones de su padre más que nada.
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