USDA Announces Facility Improvement Grants for Eight Tribal Colleges

Contact: Jay Fletcher
(202) 690-0498

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Lisa Mensah today announced funding to help eight tribal colleges upgrade their infrastructure, purchase equipment and make other improvements to their educational facilities. Funding is provided through USDA’s Tribal College Initiative Grant program. Mensah made the announcement while visiting Northwest Indian College in Whatcom County.

“Education is one of the best investments we can make in the future of rural America,” Mensah said. “Tribal colleges are key resources for their communities and regions. Over the last seven years, USDA has worked closely with tribal leaders to support locally-driven solutions to improve economic opportunities in tribal areas by increasing access to education, health care, broadband and business development.”

Northwest Indian College, located on the Lummi Indian Reservation in Whatcom County, is receiving a $143,000 grant to renovate its 1931 Day School, a 5,000-square-foot building that houses offices, classrooms and space for Tribal Elders. The USDA grant will be combined with the college’s $40,750 contribution to replace windows, old siding, trim and gutters, and remove lead-based paint, an environmental and public health concern.

More than 75 percent of the college’s students come from federally-recognized Indian tribes representing more than 90 tribal nations. The college’s Day School holds great historical and cultural value for Lummi Nation membership and Tribal Elders. Its renovation will allow the college to use the building for many years to come. 

The awards announced today, listed below, are contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.


  • Tohono O’odham Community College, $143,000: 


  • Bay Mills Community College, $143,000: To make campus improvements.

  • Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, $143,000: To purchase early learning and business equipment.

  • Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, $143,000: T


  • College of the Muscogee Nation, $143,000:

South Dakota

  • Oglala Lakota College, $143,000: To repair a generator

  • Sinte Gleska University, $143,000: To improve the security system.


  • Northwest Indian College, $143,000: To renovate its 1931 Day School.

The Tribal College Initiative Grant program is an important source of funding for higher education in Native American communities. In 2011 and 2013, USDA Rural Development awarded Nebraska Indian Community College two grants totaling $280,000 to build a classroom and training facility for construction and vehicle maintenance. Before the building was constructed, there was nowhere for students to get hands-on training, because the original building could not accommodate large, heavy equipment. The new, 4,000-square-foot facility is large enough to provide hands-on training. The college serves many students from the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and the Santee Sioux Nation.

USDA has significantly expanded its support for Tribes and tribal communities since 2009, providing $3.1 billion in Rural Development programs and services. USDA has provided more than $553.5 million in loans, loan guarantees and grants to build or upgrade more than 300 tribal facilities, and $55 million in loans to support Native-owned businesses and promote economic development in tribal areas.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARDThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.)  has invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. USDA also has invested $31.3 billion in 963 electric projects that have financed more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. For more information, visit

Last Modified: 08/25/2016