Spotlight on Innovation: How the South Dakota Higher Ed System is Transforming Support for American Indian and Low-Income Students

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 24 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

In a recent initiative, South Dakota institutions are working specifically to address the needs of the state’s American Indian and low-income students. This demographic faces unique challenges, in part because the majority of South Dakota's American Indian students live on rural reservations or in other rural locales and may be reluctant to leave family and community to pursue higher education.

The South Dakota higher education system first addressed some of these issues through a 2012 pilot program that served similar populations of underrepresented, low-income students.  Now South Dakota Jump Start Project Director Rhoda Smith hopes to tackle those issues more comprehensively through the South Dakota Jump Start program, which will operate at seven South Dakota institutions through a $3.6 million First in the World grant.

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