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National Relief Charities
April 29, 2011

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has been a national leader, since at least 1992, in the development of programming to encourage Native American high school students to take interest in STEM disciplines pre-college and then succeed in their pursuit of engineering or science degrees and careers. As anyone who works in this arena can testify, the challenge is tremendous. Using an analogy, the solution to the challenge of pulling students up through completion of high school and then into college, and then across the graduation stage must be solved in pieces, like putting together a puzzle. Our engagement begins at an early age and involves the community, family, educators.

Allowing a student to find the financial resources for college and living away from home is a very important piece of the puzzle. Helping students deal with unplanned financial hardships that happen to almost everyone in the course of 5 years at college is required to keep these young people in school, assuming they are doing the work and keeping up with the rigors of an engineering or science course load.

American Indian Education Foundation, a subset of National Relief Charities, has been a key partner in our successes for nearly a decade. Intially the support came in the form of the matching challenge for scholarships--where we were able to attract donors who had interest in supporting our Native American students and double their gift. Relationships and awareness created through that program have continued to benefit the scholarship program. In fact, our reputation for success using proven, mature...but still developing programing, was instrumental in receiving major NSF funding to create our Tiospaye program as well as a number of multi-year industry-sponsored gifts for scholarship and program development.

Most recently, the support our dean of students has at her discretion to aid students through the Emergency Fund provided by NRC is working to retain these students who have absolutely no other financial means when something goes wrong.

We know that the relationship with NRC/AIEF is key to our successes to date. The support created and improved relationships with other donors. Our intention is to never lose sight of the fact that partnerships such as this are going to be the only way to solve the challenges and change the lives of these young people we are working to serve. America needs engineers and scientists and industry calls for diversity in the workforce--to that end, we cannot understate our appreciation for the individuals and the programs who are helping us succeed.

The Great!

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If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Consider offering the matching challenge for new scholarship donors to those organizations that maximized the program in the past. This will help an entirely new group of kids.

Professional with expertise in this field & explained above.