USAO awarded $1.9 million Department of Education Grant

Sunset from Nash Library
“New Pathways to Success” project to increase success of Native American and low-income students

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma a five-year $1.9 million grant as part of the federal government’s Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions program. This is the third NASNTI grant the university has received.  

Through the “New Pathways to Success” USAO will establish a financial literacy education program, improve disability services and establish an experiential learning program. The goal is to improve USAO’s capacity to increase the retention, success and graduation rates of Native American and low-income students who make up a significant portion of USAO’s student population.  

“This grant and the potential it has to empower our campus and Native students hits close to home,” said Autumn Dalman, NASNTI grant program director. “I’m an alum from USAO and I would have benefitted from several of the initiatives this grant will offer when I was a student. USAO’s participation in the NASNTI program greatly expands the services we can offer our students and significantly increases their chance of successfully completing a bachelor’s degree.” 

The financial literacy education component includes individualized financial planning and coaching for cohorts of historically underserved students. Workshops to address timely and relevant financial planning skills for college students will be offered, as well as a culturally relevant financial literacy series for Native American students. Through the grant, a peer mentoring program will be piloted. Financial and economic literacy topics will also be integrated in existing courses. 

To improve disability services, USAO also plans to update policies and procedures addressing the needs of students with disabilities. A self-advocacy training program for incoming freshman will be developed. To help meet the academic needs of students with disabilities a student support group and Student Advisory Board will be developed as well as the implementation of faculty professional development.  

The experiential learning component includes the development of community partnerships so USAO students will have experience-based opportunities in internships, capstone projects, community-based study and service learning. These opportunities will be integrated in existing courses in collaboration with current faculty. In addition, this component includes the development of a career opportunities fair and workshop for students who are Native American or low-income and have disabilities. 

As part of the Title III program, the Department of Education issues NASNTI grants to assist nontribal universities whose student body includes at least 10 percent of members of federally-recognized tribal governments. The program helps in the planning, development and execution of activities that enhance the institutions’ capacity to assist Native American and low-income students and improve their chances of successfully completing their college education.