Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, thanks 1st Tribal Lending for its generous investment in Native education at the RES luncheon, March 21. College Fund board of trustee members Dawson Her Many Horses (left) and Lynn Dee Rapp (right) wrap the 25th Anniversary College Fund blanket around Brett Robinson, managing director of 1st Tribal Lending, in appreciation.

1st Tribal Lending Joins American Indian College Fund to 'Stand With Native Students'

Kristin Butler

1st Tribal Lending On Track to Donate $80K to Native Scholarships by End of 2016

"We would like to wrap you and thank 1st Tribal Lending for your generous investment in the future of Native college students. We thank you, because you have the courage and foresight to stand together with our students and the ones who will follow them, helping them to realize their dreams and fulfill their potential," said Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, as College Fund board of trustees Dawson Her Many Horses and Lynn Dee Rapp wrapped a 20th Anniversary College Fund blanket around Brett Robinson, managing director of 1st Tribal Lending.

Crazy Bull spoke at the Business to Business Collaboration Luncheon on the first day of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's Reservation Economic Summit (RES), held March 21-24 at the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

1st Tribal Lending is the nation's leading U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 184 mortgage lender. The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program is a home mortgage specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities. The 1st Tribal Lending team has successfully closed thousands of HUD Section 184 loans across the nation, including properties on the reservation, off the reservation, site built construction, remodels, rehabs and manufactured homes. 1st Tribal Lending also provides financial literacy outreach to tribes.

For each loan that 1st Tribal Lending has funded, the firm donates a portion to the College Fund. "We see this as a long-term partnership in which our success will feed into more and more scholarships for Native kids to go to college," Robinson said.

"…[B]y the end of this first year, they will be on track to have donated over $80,000 to support scholarships for Native American students," Crazy Bull said.

"Brett Robinson and his team have shared with us that they hope this partnership supports students so they can successfully make it through graduation," Crazy Bull continued. "Additionally they share and recognize the success stories of our students on their own website and through social media. And most recently they have shared their support with our new campaign Stand With Native Students. The Stand With Native Students campaign has a simple premise to it: We tell students, 'We see you.' We tell them, 'We recognize your potential, and we stand together with you.'"

RELATED: American Indian College Fund Stands With Native Students

This March, the College Fund launched its Stand With Native Students campaign. Most Native students need help – 90 percent demonstrate financial need. The goal of the Stand With Native Students campaign is to raise $500,000, so 100 more American Indians can start the path to earning their college degrees. "Stand with us. Stand with Students. Together we'll empower more American Indians to make positive change in our world," states standwithus.org. More than just a fundraising campaign, Stand With Native Students is also a call to action to voice support, particularly on social media with #StandForNativeStudents.

The College Fund announced at its  2016 Flame of Hope Gala, held March 1 in New York City, that it aims to reach its $500,000 goal within four months. The Gala itself raised more htan $40,000 toward the campain, including Crazy Bull's personal pledge of $1,000 and a generous $25,000 donation from the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women and Girls.

Crazy Bull said:

Our Native students have repeatedly shared with me that they have a desire to be seen and to be heard and to be counted, and I know all of you know this. Our students want to be able to share all of their gifts and contribute to society. Our students and indeed all of us should not have to ask to be seen or heard, but tragically that is our reality. The reality is that as Native students and people we are invisible to the world outside our communities. At the American Indian College Fund, we discovered that only 7 percent of Native Americans between the ages of 25 to 29 years old hold a college degree. …We all know that education is the answer, and we know that an education not only provides financial stability over one's lifetime, but gives one confidence and courage. Education provides the courage to stand up and be seen. When only 7 percent of young American Indians hold a college degree, we know at the College Fund that we don't get to share our cultural, social and scientific knowledge, or give the gift of our amazing languages, art and our music. Sometimes we find that our students tell us, 'We know that we are sometimes invisible and we are standing right in front of others.' I'm sharing this with you because the College Fund has started a new campaign. Together with wonder new tribal partners like 1st Tribal Lending, we are addressing this issue of how few of us have college degrees.

Crazy Bull was joined on the RES luncheon stage by two members of the College Fund board of trustees: Dawson Her Many Horses, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and vice president of Gaming Industries at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Lynn Dee Rapp, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and president of Eagle Opportunity, a marketing initiative of professionals who support the "Buy Native" movement.

Robinson then issued a call to action on behalf of the American Indian College Fund:

We want to urge each and every one of you here at RES to take a moment and think about how you can also support Native students. We reach a lot of Native Americans through social media and Facebook who never had heard of the HUD Section 184 program. It's a great vehicle for reaching Natives. Our call to action today is to post your belief in Native students on Faceobok or Twitter and support the College Fund's Stand With Native Students campaign [#StandWithNativeStudents]. We're going to have this [Stand With Native Students] sign at the 1st Tribal Lending booth in the convention hall, and it's also going to be at the American Indian College Fund's booth, which is number 511. We're going to have smaller versions of the sign, so you can take selfies and post it on social media, showing that you along with 1st Tribal Lending and the College Fund stand together with Native college students.

Undergraduate tribal college students can apply for the 1st Tribal Lending Scholarship, value, $3,000, by logging into the American Indian College Fund here. The scholarship is available to freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior students at tribal college with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants should be high-achieving students with financial need seeking a four-year degree. College Fund scholarships require U.S. Citizenship and American Indian or Alaska Native tribe membership, or proof of descendancy (parent or grandparent). Full-time tribal college enrollment is required for all scholarships. Find out more information about applying to American Indian College Fund scholarships at www.collegefund.org/content/scholarships.

The American Indian College Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides American Indians with student scholarships and programmatic support for the nation's 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities located on or near Indian reservations.The College Fund was established in 1989 and is the nation's largest and highest-rated American Indian scholarship organization.

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