SD tribal community colleges awarded $429,000 in USDA grants

Farm Forum

Huron, S.D. – U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Under Secretary Lisa Mensah recently announced funding to help tribal colleges, including three in South Dakota, 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.”

South Dakota recipients are: Oglala Lakota College in Kyle will receive $143,000 to repair a generator and make campus renovations; Sinte Gleska University in Mission will receive $143,000 to improve the security system; and Sisseton Wahpeton College in Sisseton will receive $143,000 for student housing.

The awards are contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

The Tribal College Initiative Grant program is an important source of funding for higher education in Native American communities. In 2012 and 2013, USDA Rural Development awarded Oglala Lakota College in Kyle with two grants totaling $284,205 to provide American with Disabilities Act (ADA) updates and Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) updates to the campus. In addition, funds were used to install security cameras in the classrooms at the Head Start Buildings.

Since 2009, USDA has significantly expanded its support for Tribes and Tribal communities, 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 has invested $13 billion to start or expand 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