M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust awards NWIC $400,000 grant

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) was recently awarded a $400,000 challenge grant by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for campus technology improvements, which will help further bring the college’s technology into the 21st Century. 

The grant will support campus-wide technology infrastructure at the college’s main Lummi campus and improve distance learning capabilities throughout its six full-service extended campuses at reservations in Washington and Idaho. The college must raise another $325,000 to unlock the full challenge grant and to complete $725,000 in technology improvements.

“Access to technology in rural areas and reservations is more limited than most places in the U.S. This grant will help create more technological access for our students and the communities we serve,” Cheryl Crazy Bull, NWIC President said. “We recognize that this is a substantial gift from the Murdock Trust and we are honored to have the Trust join us as a partner in Native higher education.”

The technology improvements are part of NWIC’s $44 million capital expansion, through which the college is creating a four-year university and sanctuary of learning for Native students.

To date, $36.6 million has been pledged and seven new buildings have opened (from an early learning and daycare center to a natural resources laboratory). The college is also now awarding its first four-year degree – a Bachelor of Science degree in Native Environmental Science.

Site work is now underway for three additional facilities – a library and technology building, the Salish Sea Research Center, and the Coast Salish Institute, which is also a recipient of a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. More than 75 architects, construction companies and other vendors from throughout the Puget Sound region have been at work since construction began in fall 2005.

NWIC is experiencing strong support from the federal government, tribes throughout the country and from the region’s private foundations, including the Murdock Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Norcliffe Foundation, the Puget Sound Energy Foundation, and the St. Luke’s Foundation.

“It’s obvious the people of the Pacific Northwest value the role that higher education plays in lifting up our Native communities,” Crazy Bull said. “Our expansion welcomes everyone’s participation on many levels – from higher education support to those interested in making a difference in Native science, literacy, cultural preservation, and workforce training.”

The mission of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, cultural, and spiritual base in creative and sustainable ways.

As the only regional tribal college in the United States and the only accredited tribal college in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, NWIC is a gateway to higher education for the region’s 270,000 American Indians and Alaskan Natives. This year, the college’s diverse student body represents 126 tribes from throughout North America.

NWIC’s main campus is located at the Lummi Nation, near Bellingham, Washington. Full-service extended campuses are located at five reservations in Washington (Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Swinomish, Muckleshoot, and Tulalip) and one in Idaho (Nez Perce).  Courses are also offered through distance learning modalities at each of the 29 Washington tribes and throughout the Northwest and United States.