In addition to the tribe, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Robeson Community College and the Public Schools of Robeson County will share in the funds being provided through the U.S. Department of Education’s Native Youth Community Projects grant.
According to Stuart R. Locklear, the grant/planning manager for the Lumbee Tribe, the grant becomes effective Thursday. Over the first year of the grant, there will be $480,707 available to be shared among partnership members, he said.
“This is a historical moment for me and the tribe,” Paul Brooks, the tribe’s chairman, said during Thursday’s official grant announcement ceremony attended by representatives of the entities making up the partnership. “I’m so happy to see such a willingness by so many for an education movement of this kind here in Robeson County … . It’s amazing how through education you can take a child and make that child know who he is and where he wants to go in life.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a key player in securing the grant, said that education is vital to ensure that individuals can obtain and hold on to good-paying jobs.
“This (grant) is a huge win for our community,” Hudson said in a statement. “Jobs have been and will continue to be my top priority, and the fundamental part of job preparedness starts with a quality education. This grant is a necessary step to help introduce families to the higher education system, equip students with critical knowledge, and ensure folks have the skills they need to get and keep good-paying jobs.”
Each partner funded through the grant will play a different role in providing American Indian students with the information and skills they need to get into college and remain there. This includes UNCP working with the Lumbee Tribe’s Boys and Girl’s Clubs to establish a tutoring program; informational summer, day and community camps being sponsored by UNCP; RCC providing college advisers to work with school guidance counselors to recruit students for RCC’s “Career and College Promise” program; equipment and books to get young people ready for college purchased by RCC; and transportation to RCC’s Career and College Promise” program supplied by the Public Schools of Robeson County.
Lawrence Locklear, program coordinator for UNCP’s Southeast American Indian Studies Program, said that the retention rate for American Indian in colleges is less than other ethnic other groups. As part of the grant, he said, a needs assessment is going to be conducted to determine what issues keep Lumbee students from seeking higher education.
Locklear also said that enrollment of American Indians at UNCP has been declining during the past five years.
“Maybe enrollment will improve as the economy improves,” he said.