Northern Arizona University Secures $10 Million to Help Indigenous Students Succeed

Northern Arizona University plans to invest $10 million in a new initiative to support Indigenous people, faculty and staff.

NAU announced that it has received a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to develop and implement the Seven Generations Signature Initiative (7GSI) over the next three years. To make the initiative even more transformative, the Flagstaff-based university’s foundation matched the grant by contributing an additional $5 million.

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NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera says the grant is indicative of NAU’s investment in empowering indigenous communities.

“The breadth of this $10 million, seven-generation signature initiative demonstrates how NAU has brought its commitment to indigenous peoples to all of our work, from leading scholarship and meaningful engagement to student belonging and success,” Rivera said in a statement. “I am grateful for the support and investment of the Mellon Foundation and the NAU Foundation to make this possible, and I look forward to the extraordinary contributions NAU will make to fulfill our commitment to be the nation’s leading institution, serving the indigenous peoples.”

The 7GSI proposal was inspired by NAU’s commitment to Indigenous Peoples, articulated in NAU’s Strategic Plan, NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence:

In recognition of the unique sovereign status of the indigenous people and the sacred land on which the university is built, the NAU will continue its intentional support for indigenous students, faculty and staff; Develop university-wide, culturally-responsive educational offerings and programs, and build mutually beneficial partnerships with indigenous communities that will position NAU as the nation’s leading university serving indigenous peoples.

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Key components in 7GSI include:

Increasing Indigenous Scholarship

  • Development of Open Educational Resources (OER) for Indigenous Peoples: NAU faculty and national experts will lead the development of a catalog of Indigenous peoples-focused courses in a variety of disciplines that will be accessible to universities and students across the country.
  • Recruitment and development of faculty with a focus on Indigenous Sciences: NAU will launch a targeted early- and mid-career faculty recruitment program with the goal of strengthening and developing the University’s community of scholars whose work relates to indigenous perspectives and knowledge focused Academic Disciplines.

strengthen partnerships

  • Seven Generations Indigenous Knowledge Center (7Gen Center): A new on-campus center will bring together indigenous knowledge bearers, partners, artists and tribal leaders whose diverse perspectives will enrich and deepen pedagogy, scholarship and artistic endeavors.

Encouraging the success of Indigenous students

  • Indigenous Peoples Living-Learning Community (IPLLC): NAU will mentor more than 150 students through an expansion of IPLLC, cultivating a sense of belonging, building cultural connections, and supporting the academic success of indigenous students at NAU.

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