ConAgra Foods Foundation Makes Nutrition Education Grant to American Indian College Fund

American Indian College Fund
Saturday, 1 September 2001

ConAgra Foods Foundation has made a grant of $5,000 to the American Indian College Fund, a nonprofit organization working for 32 American Indian colleges and universities in the United States. This gift will assist tribal institutions in providing child nutrition education programs to their American Indian students.

Tribal colleges have been called "under-funded miracles" and "economic lifelines" for American Indian communities. The schools were founded by tribes to fight the high rates of poverty and educational failure which afflict Indian people. Located mostly on poor Indian reservations, these colleges created the College Fund to raise desperately needed scholarship and operating monies.

The ConAgra Foods Foundation made the gift on behalf of the ConAgra Feeding Children Better initiative. Feeding Children Better, a partnership between ConAgra Foods, America's Second Harvest and the Center on Hunger and Poverty, is the largest corporate initiative in the U.S, dedicated to fighting child hunger.

"U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that 12 million children in the U.S. are at risk of hunger. Our gift will help tribal colleges provide critical educational programs about child nutrition to their students and will help improve the futures of American Indian children in the U.S.," said Lynn Phares, president, ConAgra Foods Foundation.

"The ConAgra Foods Foundation is helping us make the dreams of more American Indian students a reality," said Richard Williams, executive director of the College Fund. "Tribal colleges are creating graduates, skilled workers and community problem-solvers. Where once there was failure, our colleges offer hope."

The tribal colleges are located in 12 Western and Midwestern states. Unemployment in the rural areas served by the colleges can reach 80 percent, and 85 percent of students jive at the poverty level. While nearly all American Indian students who leave reservations for public colleges fail to graduate, tribal colleges are reversing this trend. About 90 percent of tribal college graduates find jobs or pursue further education. The tribal colleges credit a mix of fully accredited academics and Native culture and language courses.

In 2000, the College Fund distributed nearly $4.2 million in scholarships and $7.6 million in other support to the then 31 tribal colleges. This aid directly supported more than 5,500 students. The College Fund also supported endowments and public awareness as well as college programs in Native cultural preservation and teacher training.

With its flame and feather symbol, the College Fund's credo is "educating the mind and spirit." Fully operating since 1989, the College Fund has raised a total of more than $90 million from corporations, foundations and some 90,000 individual Americans.

For more information, or to contact American Indian College Fund, see their website at: www.collegefund.org

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