Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding to Expand College Access for American Indian and Alaska Native Students

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) secured $500,000 in federal funding to expand a program at Saint Paul College focused on providing academic and social support to American Indian and Alaska Native students. 

Specifically, the funding will help grow the Four Directions Pathway program at Saint Paul College. The program is designed to promote college access and success for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students through a culturally relevant lens. In 2020, AI/AN communities in Minnesota saw a degree attainment rate of 27.5%, a figure well below the state’s 70% attainment goal. Improving access to education for these communities will help to ensure a skilled workforce in the local economy and bolster the state’s vitality.

“All students deserve the chance to pursue higher education, but too often and for too long, Native American students have faced barriers in their transition to college,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This funding will be critical to improving access to postsecondary education for Native American students and closing the opportunity gap that our tribal communities face.”

“This federal funding will help Native students access and excel in higher education while strengthening our local workforce – a win-win,” said Sen. Smith. “I am proud of our work to secure this funding, which will promote college access and success for Native students and help build a strong, diverse workforce in and around St. Paul.”

“We are grateful for the support of Senators Klobuchar and Smith. This congressionally-directed funding will make an immediate impact on the Four Directions Pathway initiative which is designed to aid in the success of the American Indian and indigenous communities in Minnesota by developing culturally responsive supports for students and families from high school through college,” said Deidra Peaslee, President of Saint Paul College. “We appreciate our local partners, including the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Indian Education Program, American Indian Family Center (AIFC), City of Saint Paul Right Track, and MIGIZI. Together, we will work to close the education gap for native students in Minnesota.”

Klobuchar and Smith have been actively involved in securing this federal funding for projects benefiting communities across the state through a process called “Congressionally Directed Spending” (CDS). During the CDS process, Klobuchar and Smith have considered project proposals and advocated for funding in close coordination with leaders from across the state.

Projects are expected to receive funding over the next several months.