UKIAH, 7/8/23 — Weeks after Mendocino College announced it had the highest enrollment of Native American students in California’s community college system, the college earned another milestone in its efforts to further support its diversity and equity efforts: it was awarded a five-year $1.5 million grant from the California College Community System to establish a Native American Student Success & Support Program.
According to a press release, the community college, which serves students in Mendocino and Lake counties, will hire staff to work with students and expand its engagement with tribal nations. Currently, 5.56% of the college’s 6,800 students identify as Native American. The new program will build upon the college’s longstanding work with Native communities, including the Pomo Pathways program in partnership with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the college’s Native American Student Resource Center and Native American Club.
Here’s the announcement from Mendocino College:
Mendocino College is thrilled to announce that it has received a prestigious five-year, $1.5 million grant from the California Community College system. This generous funding, which begins in June, will enable the college to continue providing vital resources, support, and services specifically tailored to Native American students. Mendocino College is one of only 20 institutions selected to receive funding for the establishment of a Native American Student Success & Support Program.
With this grant, Mendocino College will be able to hire dedicated staff members who will work closely with Native American students, ensuring they receive personalized support and guidance throughout their educational journey. Additionally, the funding will facilitate stronger engagement with tribal nations in the region, fostering collaboration and partnership.
This funding comes at a crucial time, allowing Mendocino College to build upon its recent efforts to enhance the support provided to Native American students. The college remains committed to fostering an inclusive environment where every student has the opportunity to succeed and thrive.
In recent years, Mendocino College has been steadfastly committed to closing equity gaps for Native American students and fostering deeper connections with the community. The college’s 2022-2025 Student Equity Plan reveals that these efforts have indeed paid off, with Native American students achieving on par with or surpassing their peers in numerous categories.
Furthermore, during the 2021-2022 academic year, Mendocino College proudly enrolled the highest number of Native American students among all institutions within the California Community College system, which comprises 116 community colleges. Despite being one of the smallest colleges in terms of overall student population, Mendocino College stands out for its remarkable success in attracting and supporting Native American students.
“Enhancing educational opportunities and pathways for Native American communities are core priorities of our district. We feel privileged to serve numerous tribal nations and are eager to collaborate in addressing the educational needs of Native American students,” says Mendocino College President, Dr. Tim Karas.
Mendocino College stands out among California community colleges by offering a dedicated on-campus space specifically for Native American students. In the past year, the college has relocated the Native American Student Resource Center (NASRC) to a more prominent location near Pomo Plaza along with various support services. This move has significantly enhanced the center’s visibility and facilitated greater access to resources for students.
Mendocino College has demonstrated its commitment to engaging Native American students through initiatives such as the establishment of Pomo Pathway in 2018. Initially launched in collaboration with the Coyote Valley Tribe of Pomo Indians, Pomo Pathway is a student learning community that integrates culturally relevant content into course curricula while offering supplemental support beyond the classroom. Although the pandemic necessitated a temporary shift to online learning, Pomo Pathway has now resumed providing in-person assistance to students. Furthermore, the program has expanded its range of support by incorporating the Native American Student Resource Center (NASRC) into its framework, ensuring a holistic approach to nurturing the success of Native American students.
The college’s commitment to supporting Native American students extends beyond providing physical spaces. Mendocino College has also adopted an official Land Acknowledgement, renamed the main quad as Pomo Plaza, and increased the number of cultural events on campus. These initiatives represent just a fraction of the comprehensive efforts being made by the institution to create an inclusive and nurturing environment for Native American students.
“We are proud of the work we are doing at Mendocino College and these funds will allow us to continue our efforts to promote student success among our Native American community and to reinvigorate a college-going culture in our region,” says Ulises Velasco, Vice President of Student Services. “Our hope is that through our consistent efforts, we are able to ensure that Native Americans feel welcomed and supported at Mendocino College and consider starting their college career with us.”
Mendocino-Lake Community College District was formed in 1973 to serve students in Mendocino and Lake counties. Mendocino College offers over 100 degree and certificate programs, and has campuses in Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, and Lakeport. Learn more at www.mendocino.edu