Mashantucket donates $153,000 to youth groups, scholarships

Gale Courey Toensing
12/31/07

NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. - The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation recently distributed $153,000 in checks to local towns and organizations and to two national scholarship funds for American Indian students in an 11-year tradition of donations.

The presentations were made at a ceremony Dec. 20 at the tribe's Lake of Isles Golf Resort in North Stonington opposite its Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The money was raised during the 11th annual Native American Golf Classic, held June 19 at Lake of Isles. The tournament was hosted by Champions Tour player and PGA veteran Jim Thorpe, who joined MPTN Chairman Michael Thomas, tribal Athletic Commission Chairman Richard Butler and other dignitaries for the presentation.

Elected officials from the towns of North Stonington, Ledyard and Preston - the three communities that border the tribe's reservation - and representatives from the Pawcatuck Lions Club each received checks for around $13,000 at a luncheon at the golf club members' dining room. The funds are earmarked for youth athletics.

In addition, checks of $51,000 each will be presented to Catching the Dream, a national scholarship fund for American Indians (www.catchingthe dream.org), and the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association.

CTD was chartered in 1986 to help provide Indian tribes, Indian communities and tribal organizations with professionally trained and educated Native people, according to the organization's Web site.

CTD's primary focus is to raise funds to provide scholarship funding for high-achieving American Indians in the fields critical to the economic, social, environmental, political, educational and business development of Indian communities. The organization has programs to help Indian students prepare more thoroughly for college-level studies and to improve the educational resources and programs that prepare these students for college, according to the Web site.

The Bill Dickey Scholarship Association aims to increase the participation of minority students in the sport of golf and also provide financial assistance for education and opportunities, according to the organization's Web site, www.nmjgsa.org. The association awards scholarship grants and financial aid packages of $1,000 to as much as $6,000 annually to individuals based on academic achievement, entrance exam scores, financial need, references, evidence of community service and golfing ability.

The nation's Athletic Commission distributes the checks each year and asks that the money be put toward projects and programs that children in the community can benefit from.

Last year, the golf tournament raised $200,000 and was able to donate more than $18,000 to each of the towns. The fund-raiser this year raised only $153,000.

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