The Board of Regents has delivered one plank of its American Indian outreach initiative to the Legislature. House Bill 1020 would authorize the Regents to hire a new full-time Indian education and outreach coordinator for its central office. A task force study discussed at the Regents' December meeting recommends hiring one person to work on behalf of all six universities to help American Indian students across the state navigate university admissions and financial aid. Among the job quals suggested by the task force:
- This person should be American Indian him/herself and culturally sensitive to the realities of Native students and families.
- While the position will be located at the BOR office in Pierre, the majority of time will be spent at high schools and in larger American Indian population centers such as reservations to work directly with high school officials, high school students and their families. This person must be in communication with high schools and may even bring high school officials together for in-service education on assisting college-ready American Indian students.
- Engagement of the campus-based American Indian student network will be critical as success will happen only if collaboration between the central position and campus professionals occurs.
- Integration with staff of Gear Up and TRIO programming as well as with tribal college/university staff will be important to ensure this effort compliments and supplements existing efforts.
- The central position’s responsibilities will be to assist high school students in preparing for college. This will include working with high school and tribal officials in identifying the college-bound American Indian students and assisting these students:
- Taking the ACT and getting scores submitted to appropriate campus(es);
- Applying to college(s);
- Completing the FAFSA;
- Identifying and applying for scholarships;
- Completing other applications such as housing, meal plan, summer orientation, etc.; and
- Linking to other campus-based student success programs such as summer bridge, TRIO, American Indian Centers/advising, special orientation programs, and other campus resources as appropriate [from Recommendations, Attachment II, "Like Two Different Worlds: American Indian Perspectives on College-Going in South Dakota," SD Board of Regents, October 2013.].
House Bill 1020 asks the Legislature to appropriate $65,000 to pay this outreach coordinator to help kids make the difficult jump from reservation to campus.