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Tribal college status brings funding boost to Ilisagvik College

July 27th, 2012 | Elise Patkotak Print this article   Email this article  

When Ilisagvik College became the only federally recognized Tribal College in Alaska, the door was opened to Title III grant funding under the Tribal Community Colleges and Universities Program, TCCU.

This summer, Ilisagvik held two summer camps funded by Title III: the Digital Film Camp and the Construction Trades Camp. The two camps had a total of 16 students from all over the North Slope, as well as several from Kivalina in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Both camps were designed to have math and English lessons imbedded, providing students with lessons they can apply in high school, as well as the fun of learning film and carpentry skills.

In addition, this funding has also allowed for Hughes Net high speed internet to be installed in North Slope villages, and Ilisagvik staff has incorporated other technology upgrades on both the Barrow campus and in the villages to make distance delivery a more efficient educational tool. Rob Carrillo, Lead Distance Education Coordinator for Ilisagvik, reports that "The village sites received new internet service from Hughes Net, as well as computers and furniture.?Everything was set up by college IT and Distance Delivery staff. New software in mathematics, vocabulary, writing and grammar has been installed for developmental education in their computer lab. The success has been great with a 62 percent pass ratio. The percentage was only 50 percent before we received the grant."

The grant also funds a Foundational Studies Curriculum Instructor, whose position is geared towards helping students achieve the math and English skills required to study at the college level. Emphasis is also being placed on professional development for faculty, adjuncts and staff in the areas of innovation in course development and delivery to help make courses more accessible to students.

Additionally, a new learning resource center is currently in development to offer students more tutoring and study group opportunities. The establishment of cohort groups for students entering specific programs at the same time is also under consideration. Faculty and staff have already received over 50 hours of professional development with topics ranging from Microsoft Office lessons to online content development. Assessment tools and rubric?are being developed to assist faculty and adjuncts to better assess their students' progress.

These grants can fund a variety of programs to assist local students in their postsecondary education. According to Carrillo, "they are five-year awards with funding allocated each year for the purpose of strengthening the institution's mission. Iḷisaġvik received significant funding for the first two years. We are presently in year two of the grant, with year three already awarded for up to $1 million to be received Oct. 1. Institutions that show progress towards their stated objectives continue to be awarded. If not, the US Department of Education can reduce an institution's funding level. Ilisagvik has a stellar record and has received merits for excellent grant management."

While the first year of the grant's activities mostly consisted of setting up staffing, purchasing equipment, training staff and other business aspects of the project, the second year has seen an all out effort to start implementing program objectives. These include increasing student support based on the need evidenced by low graduation rates for Alaska Native and Native American students. By increasing support to keep students in school, the college hopes to increase its students' completion rates. This objective is being addressed at Ilisagvik through a task force including a Persistence and Retention Facilitator, a Cultural Based Curriculum Coordinator and a Distance Education Coordinator. Future plans call for the cultural curriculum currently being developed to be immersed into existing curriculum and used by all faculty.

Ilisagvik College President Pearl Brower expressed great admiration for the work being done under the Title III grant.

"Ilisagvik is committed to doing everything necessary to assist our students in achieving their goals," she commented. "We know the struggles many face and we want to be able to offer whatever support and assistance they need to reach their goal, whether it is an AA degree, a certificate or a license. Each completed step in a student's education makes their future brighter. Thank you to the US Department of Education for the opportunities you've given our students by providing us with this funding!"

For more information on how Ilisagvik can brighten your future, contact recruiter Janelle Everett at (907) 852-1799 or


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