U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar Announce STEM Education Funding for Minnesota Tribal Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON [2/14/2024] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs and Education Committees, and Amy Klobuchar (both D-Minn.) announced funding for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Red Lake Nation College to expand their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. The funding comes from the National Science Foundation and is part of a larger project to promote education and careers in STEM for Indigenous students.

“STEM education has never been more important as the demand for STEM-trained employees has soared,” said Senator Smith. “This funding will provide accessible pathways for Native students to pursue higher education and serve their communities – all while integrating Tribal cultural heritage and roots into their curriculum.”

“Expanding higher education offerings can be a real game changer for students,” said Senator Klobuchar. “These National Science Foundation awards will open doors for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Red Lake Nation College students to learn essential skills for in-demand careers while ensuring Ojibwe language and culture remain key components of their education.”

White Earth Tribal and Community College was awarded $2,500,000 to begin offering an associate’s degree in natural sciences, with coursework including biology, chemistry and physics. Having this coursework available to White Earth students will help graduates access good jobs and further education in high-demand fields such as health sciences. 

Red Lake Nation College will use their $2,500,000 in funding to expand curriculum in social and behavioral sciences, with coursework rooted in the Ojibwe language and culture. Given the high demand in Tribal areas for workers in social services, this program will strengthen the talent pipeline for graduates to fill that need. 

Senator Smith has long been a lead advocate for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).  In addition to cosponsoring numerous bills in support of TCUs, she leads a bipartisan annual appropriations letter in support of funding for TCUs.  Just last week, Senators Smith and Klobuchar met with representatives from three of Minnesota’s TCUs to hear about the students’ experiences and the unique opportunities that TCUs provide in some of the most isolated and underserved communities in the country.