Cow Creek Education Director talks to OPB about new grant for Tribal students

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Cow Creek recently participated in a conversation on Oregon Public Broadcasting regarding a new grant program for Tribal students designed to offset the costs of higher education.

Sandy Henry, Education Director, was invited to speak on OPB’s “Think Out Loud” program, along with Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, about the new Oregon Tribal Student Grant program.

The grant is being heralded as a significant opportunity for Native American students conquer some of the hurdles associated with higher education.

“Being able to talk with our students — returning or first-time students — and saying, ‘I’ve got this great program that’s going to take a lot of pressure off of you and your family and it’s going to allow you to focus primarily on having a successful academic year,’ that’s a huge gift to give our students right off the bat,” said Henry.

The grant is for Oregon Tribal members attending in-state colleges or universities, who can apply for financial aid to bring down the costs of tuition, housing, books, and more. Cannon said the program is more far-reaching than others.

“This program takes into account not only [tuition] costs, but also the costs associated with being a student,” he said.

The grant has been approved by Oregon lawmakers for one year, at a cost of $19 million.

Henry was enthusiastic about the grant program, but expressed concern that one year is not enough to create a successful career path.

“What we don’t want to do is set people up for one year of success, followed by no supports and failure,” she said, adding, “I’m hoping that by engaging in this program for this year and showing the legislature what a need there is, we can continue to invest in what is an important part of our success and future.”

In addition, Henry said Cow Creek and other Tribes would like to see the grant program expanded to include technical and vocational schools that offer licenses and certificates as a pathway to go good-paying jobs.

“I have great confidence that we’re going to resolve that and move that forward,” said Henry. “I’m hoping that this opens the door for Tribal students to see what their potential can really be.”

To learn more about the Oregon Tribal Student Grant program, click here or visit