For many young Cherokees, college is the doorway to realizing their dreams. It is the path to many different rewarding careers and ways to support a family. No young Cherokee who dreams of going to college should have to cancel those dreams because of the cost.
That is why Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I have proposed increasing the college scholarships available to Cherokees from $2,000 to $2,500 per semester over the next two years. The increase will benefit more than 5,000 college students, across the entire United States, who receive the tribe’s scholarship every semester, especially in a time when the cost of higher education has grown substantially.
We know that help accessing higher education can pay off many times over throughout a person’s life. Without doubt, this investment will lead to a stronger and more prosperous Cherokee Nation. After they graduate, I hope many of these students will use their skills and talents in important roles at Cherokee Nation or Cherokee Nation Businesses. Whatever they do, I know they will help to build up our Cherokee communities even more.
The proposed increase will be phased in gradually, with an initial increase of $250 per semester beginning this fall and an additional $250 per semester beginning in the fall of 2024. This measured approach ensures that the increase is fiscally responsible and can be sustained over the long term. I believe the Council of the Cherokee Nation also recognizes the importance of this proposal and will ensure its passage.
In addition to the college scholarship program, the Cherokee Nation offers an array of education services, including a College Resource Center that provides comprehensive student advisors and scholarship searches. We also provide a concurrent enrollment for eligible high school students, as well as academic and cultural support for K-12 students through the Johnson O’Malley program. Cherokee Nation’s workforce training and placement programs help Cherokees seeking to advance in careers outside of college. These initiatives reflect the tribe’s holistic approach to education, supporting students at every stage of their academic journey.
We also have a great partner in this mission that is also contributing mightily: the Cherokee Nation Foundation. This year CNF will set another scholarship record, with over $428,000 to 113 Cherokee students here at home and across the country.
As I have said many times over the years, Cherokee Nation has a long and storied history of investing in education. It is one of the things that make us most proud as Cherokee citizens. Today, the increase in college scholarships is a continuation of that legacy.
The students we invest in today are the leaders of tomorrow. With this rising generation of Cherokees, our future has never been brighter.
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