UC Riverside students. (UCR/Stan Lim)

Grant funds new Native Community Education Promise Program

A $10,000 grant was awarded to UCR’s Division of Undergraduate Education

February 12, 2024
Author: Sandra Baltazar Martinez
February 12, 2024

UC Riverside’s Division of Undergraduate Education is launching a new initiative to support Indigenous student success with the support of a $10,000 grant from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, or APLU, and Cornell University. The announcement was made Monday, Feb. 12

The $10,000 grant will serve as seed funding to establish the Native Community Education Promise (NCEP) Program to support Indigenous undergraduate scholars from all majors dedicated to serving the Native community upon graduation. One of the primary goals is to offer NCEP participants financial and mentoring support, particularly to those interested in pursuing graduate degrees.  

Nelly Cruz

This is the first student success initiative focused on Indigenous student success that is created by the Division of Undergraduate Education.

Nelly Cruz, university innovation alliance fellow with UCR’s Division of Undergraduate Education, is serving as co-project leader alongside Wallace Cleaves, associate dean and director of the University Writing Program, and director of the California Center for Native Nations. 

“This grant does not specifically target local tribal communities, although a significant number of UCR’s Native American undergraduates are from California tribes,” Cleaves said. “We also hope to bring in more California Indian students through the President’s Native American Opportunity Plan, which provides for tuition and student service fees for California residents of Federally enrolled tribal citizens, and the Federated Tribes of Graton Rancheria scholarship fund, which covers non-Federally Recognized Tribes.”

Wallace Cleaves

UCR’s Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, or VPDUE, has also committed to support the initiative by providing one year of programming support. NCEP was developed in consultation with UCR's Native American Student Programs and is further supported by UCR's California Center for Native Nations. 

Developing programming to support UCR students committed to serving the Native American community was something the Division of Undergraduate Education had already begun to conceptualize before learning of the APLU grant, said Louie Rodríguez, vice provost and dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education.  

“This grant opportunity was a perfect fit and helps shape our vision and programming with some seed funding to get our efforts off the ground, and at the same time, will help us meet our strategic goals. We look forward to collaborating with our campus partners,” Rodríguez said. 

Louie Rodríguez

Robin Parent, associate vice president, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) & STEM Education at APLU, said APLU is “thrilled to support UC Riverside in this critical work.” 

“Native American and Indigenous students and scholars are vital to the public university community, and we’re excited to work with these institutions to support the extraordinary contributions of these initiatives,” Parent said.  

The $10,000 grants are made possible through the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The financial support to UCR and to the University of North Dakota, the second grantee, are the continuation of work APLU and Cornell have undertaken to increase scholarly understanding of land dispossession history and its relationship to contemporary Indigenous people. 

UCR will share the progress on NCEP at the APLU Annual Meeting in November.