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Title III Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTI) Grant

Honoring our journey in higher education

The mission of the Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions Grant (NASNTI) is to provide access to higher educational services for all students in the NMSU Grants Service area by honoring their background, their respective communities, and their future endeavors in higher education.

NASNTI GRANT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The U.S. Department of Education awarded a five-year Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions Grant (NASNTI) to New Mexico State University Grants Campus in October 2011 to expand access to educational opportunities for Cibola County, New Mexico residents. As part of the NASNTI grant initiative, two priorities serve as focal points which include: 1) outreach to Native American, low-income, and at-risk clients in Cibola County with a myriad of entry points to access higher education; 2) to enable more data-based decision making to improve services and strategic planning of institutional practices and services. The NMSU Grants campus is a two year public, rural, open admission community college located in Grants N.M. which operates under the New Mexico State University system and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and schools which operates on its own funding. As part of fulfilling our grant objectives, we have developed a memorandum of understanding with the Pueblo of Acoma Tribal Education Department and the Tohajiilee Navajo Chapter which are two Native American communities located in Cibola County. These two outreach sites were chosen in reference to limited technology access, sparse adult education program opportunities, and increasing higher educational access.

Historically, NMSU Grants was asked to join a regional education collaborative known as the Eastern Cibola County Leadership Group (ECCLG) which was comprised of tribal, private and public P-12 school districts in Eastern Cibola county (which includes Acoma, Laguna, and Tohajiilee) to become a P-20 collaboration. The leadership group meets on a quarterly basis to address the vital needs of NMSU Grants degree programs, retention/completion of degree programs, adult education, dual enrollment, and transfer to baccalaureate programs. As a result of these collaborative meetings, four (4) NASNTI program activities were initiated as part of the grant which include:

In our first grant activity, the NASNTI Grant has developed two Adult Basic Education Outreach Centers at Acoma Pueblo and the Tohajiilee Navajo Community to increase the number of GED completers in Cibola County. At Acoma Pueblo, we have established a vital partnership with the Acoma Tribal Education Department to promote higher education and we have enrolled 24 GED students, 12 dual enrollment students, and 30 adults are participating in workforce development, college courses, and computer literacy workshops. The Tohajiilee Navajo community serves as our second site which includes 26 adults GED students, 12 dual enrollment students, and 30 adults who participate in workforce development, college courses, and computer literacy.

Dual enrollment is our second grant activity as we have developed collaborative agreements with Cibola County high schools, by incorporating Summer Dual Enrollment Career/College Enrichment Academies to provide information about career pathways, dialogue with career professionals, and college preparatory skills. As part of our Cibola county high school service area, we serve Grants, Laguna-Acoma, Pine Hill, and Quemado High Schools. We have recently added Tohajiilee, Thoreau, and Tse Yi Gai High Schools to our dual enrollment service area agreements. Our first academy held in June 2012, we had nine students participate which focused on Health and STEM fields of study. In our second academy in July 2012, we had 18 students participate which focused on media arts and college prep activities. We have reported a 95 percent success rate for both academies as high school dual enrollment students satisfactorily met all passing requirements.  Student evaluations were near excellent as they reported learning about STEM and health fields of study.

Our third grant activity is to improve academic and student services to support student success and retention of current NMSU Grants campus students, build institutional capacity to improve technology in our academic environments and increase transfer rates of NMSU Grants students to pursue advanced bachelor’s degrees. We have established a Native American Student Center on our NMSU campus to promote spiritual, mental, social, and physical well-being among our student population and also a Native American club to promote cultural awareness, recruitment, and unity efforts. As part of our voluntary efforts, we have sponsored the second annual New Mexico American Indian Basketball Classic which is a statewide tournament and education fair that attracted over 450 high school athletes, 40 volunteers, and 3,500 patrons. Our education fair consisted of college, career, health, and Native awareness workshops and our evaluations have reported a 90 percent satisfaction rate.

In addition to our center’s activity, we also have two professional tutors that were hired to provide academic support as we continue building a successful partnership with the Student Success center on campus. We have also assisted in recruitment efforts to increase student enrollment at NMSU Grants by sharing information about our college at our outreach centers. At the Tohajiilee site, we have our first cohort of ten college students who will be enrolling in degree programs. The NASNTI Program was also recognized as an exemplary Native grant program by University of North Texas and we shared our best practices with their college representative who visited our campus in February 2012. The representative interviewed our students about their college experience which will be shared in a best practices research study.  We continue to assist the NMSU Grants Student services center by sharing information with our five local tribal governments, our leadership council, programs, and schools.

The fourth grant activity concerns the effective implementation of NASNTI grant management. All grant activities have been successfully documented including the development of working relationships with our business office, student services, NMSU Grants administration, and our leadership council. All four grant activities have been accomplished this year as the NASNTI grant has also partnered with the Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions Grant and the University of New Mexico Valencia Cooperative grant to provide educational access and opportunities for Cibola county residents. Future endeavors of the NASNTI grant include hiring a transfer advisor, adding two SMART classrooms, offering college courses at outreach sites, enhancing GED/Adult Education pedagogy, and further developing Summer dual enrollment academies.

NASNTI GRANT OBJECTIVES

As part of the NASNTI Grant at NMSU Grants, we have worked in collaboration with five tribal governments in Cibola County, which include Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Tohajiilee Navajo Chapter, Ramah-Pine Hill Navajo Chapter, and the Navajo Nation. Furthermore, we have involved various representatives to serve on our leadership council that includes social service agencies, tribal programs, non-profit organizations, schools, and educational entities to promote our mission of improving and expanding our capacity to serve Native Americans and low-income individuals. Our NASNTI grant objectives were carefully developed in collaboration with an external evaluator, Pinnacle Evaluation Services, to ensure program service delivery. Among the stated objectives include: 1) staff hiring, 2) establishment of two outreach centers in Native Communities in Cibola county, 3) collection of baseline data of Native American students at NMSU Grants, 4) Engineering lab renovation, 5) hiring of professional tutors, 6) expanding dual enrollment opportunities for service area high schools, 7) Development of two dual enrollment summer academies, and 8) completion of the NASNTI Grant evaluation conducted by an external evaluator.

OBJECTIVE ONE: Staff Operation

To ensure program operational goals, we fulfilled our objective to hire NASNTI staff which includes a project director, Dr. Shawn Secatero; administrative assistant, Eileen Martinez, adult basic education faculty who are Rachelle Simpson who is at the Acoma site and Marcella Begay who teaches at the Tohajiilee site. We have expanded research time of our institutional researcher, Rosemary Carlson, from 50% to 75% FTE. Staff members actively work with NMSU Grants student service personnel to recruit, retain, and promote college success for Native American students. Most notable about our first objective is the establishment of a NASNTI Leadership council which is comprised of 15 tribal leaders, school partners, and NMSU Grants administrative staff members. The leadership council serves as a communication tool to disseminate information throughout Cibola County.

OBJECTIVE TWO: Establishment of two tribal outreach centers in Cibola County

Our two outreach sites in the Pueblo of Acoma and the Tohajiilee Navajo community have been effectively utilized by community members and the two tribal entities have contributed in-kind building facilities for center operation with an average of 60 clients per month. We have a noted increase of computer-technology use among community members, and the number of GED/Adult education participants continually increases. We monitor our clients through a sign-in sheet and plan to initiate a computer based system to monitor visits at each of our outreach centers.

OBJECTIVE THREE: Collection of baseline data of Native American students

In year two of our grant, our institutional researcher will compile baseline data and compare retention, demographics, and success rates of our Native students with other nationalities. The collection of baseline data will be utilized as part of our data driven analysis to develop best practices. Rosemary Carlson, our part time institutional researcher, has developed baseline data to assist our grant and NMSU Grants in all three of our grant activities. Our data is shared with the NASNTI Leadership Council at quarterly meetings and published on our college website.

OBJECTIVE FOUR: Engineering Lab Renovation

As part of collaborative efforts with other grant programs on campus, the NASNTI grant has fulfilled the objective in renovating the engineering lab here at NMSU Grants. New computer work stations, chairs, and software were purchased and to improve technology on campus. Our first dual enrollment summer academy cohort was the first class to utilize the lab for their science based projects.

OBJECTIVE FIVE: Hiring of Professional Tutors

We have hired two professional part time tutors to assist in our Student Success Center. Professional Tutors with bachelors degrees or higher have been hired on the basis of their specialty area including language arts, writing, and STEM fields expertise. Tutors successfully document all student interactions with our Accutrack computer system and we have begun a mentorship program which will place students with a faculty member to address college retention initiatives.

OBJECTIVE SIX: Expanding Dual Enrollment Opportunities for Cibola County service area

As part of our dual enrollment component, we have worked in various partnerships with Cibola county high schools including Grants, Laguna-Acoma, Quemado, and Pine Hill. The Tohajiilee, Tse Yi Gai, and Thoreau High Schools were added to our dual enrollment service area schools within an annual time frame. Activities include providing various college preparatory events that included the Spring Fling which attracted 50 students and a Native based higher education symposium which included 35 students. In addition, we have worked closely with the American Indian Graduate Center Gates Millennium Scholars Program to recruit eligible students from our high schools to apply for the scholarship. We have three seniors from our area high schools who completed the rigorous application process.

OBJECTIVE SEVEN: Development of two Summer Dual Enrollment Academies

The NASNTI grant has achieved a milestone in year one of its grant as two Summer dual enrollment academies were held on campus.  A Science and Math based Dual Enrollment Summer Academy which was held in June and attracted a total of nine students who represented Grants, Laguna-Acoma, and Tohajiilee High Schools. The participants were introduced to STEM and Health based careers by NMSU Grants faculty. All 9 students evaluated the two week academy with exceptional marks as they built rockets, achieved certificates in first aid/CPR, engineered soap from bio-diesel fuels, and college preparatory workshops. In July, our summer academy featured a media based curriculum and attracted 18 students representing Laguna-Acoma, Grants, Tohajiilee, and Tse Yi Gai High Schools. Students created their own documentary, published a book, and participated in college preparatory workshops. Our student participants commented favorable remarks as part of their evaluation.

OBJECTIVE EIGHT: Completion of external evaluation

Pinnacle Evaluation Services, a Clovis, N.M. based firm spent four days with the NASNTI program and visited both outreach sites in Acoma and Tohajiilee. As part of the evaluation, our evaluator met with administration, faculty, NASNTI staff members, student services personnel, students and tribal officials to address performance data, best practices, strengths, and challenges of implementing our grant. Upon completion of our external evaluation, Dr. David Caffey, summarized our project by stating, “The NASNTI project represents an excellent investment of resources needed for quality of life and productivity in a region that has inherent disadvantages for education, including long distances from residential communities to campuses and insufficient communication technology access in some areas. The region does, however, have its assets, including a population of constructive and optimistic people who want to make a positive difference, and who are investing themselves to ensure that everyone has a chance to seek a better life through education,” (NASNTI Evaluation Report, 2012, p.16).

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