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Donation completes Heritage University effort to create a $1.5 million scholarship endowment for Native American students

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Toppenish, Wash. – A major gift to Heritage University has allowed it to reach its goal of creating a $1.5 million endowment for Native American student scholarships. The university has received a $650,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; it will be combined with matching funds from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF) and other private donors to create the endowment which supports scholarships for Indigenous students studying business or entrepreneurship.

In 2016, Heritage and JSF set the endowment fundraising effort in motion when Heritage committed to raising $1 million over three years and JSF pledging matching funds of $500,000.

“This generous gift means so much to us at Heritage University,” said Dr. Andrew Sund, president of Heritage. “This new scholarship program will change the lives and narratives of so many deserving Native students for years to come.”

“I am so grateful for this wonderful show of support,” said Dr. Maxine Janis, president’s liaison for Native American Affairs at Heritage University. “This support, coupled with the contributions from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, as well as gifts from many, many donors in the community will help us provide a pathway for our Native American students to achieve their educational and career goals.”

Kip Ramsey, Yakama Nation tribal member, entrepreneur and Heritage University board member, says Native Americans are underrepresented in nearly every sector of the American economy, and JSF scholarships will increase the numbers of Native Americans in the business world. “Education is the great equalizer and this scholarship endowment will allow more Native American students to earn their business degrees and thrive.”

The strategic intent of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation is to provide scholarship funding to Native Americans studying business and/or entrepreneurship under the theory that those men and women will then draw from their education to start business enterprises that will in turn impact their communities for future generations. 

“We are so thrilled to have the Gates Foundation join us in this endeavor to support the education of Native Americans at Heritage University,” said Malcolm Macleod, president of JSF. ”This endowed scholarship will help hundreds of students earn their college degrees and enhance the lives of many thousands of people whom these students will touch over the arc of their lives and careers.”

About the Johnson Scholarship Foundation

The Johnson Scholarship Foundation was founded by Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson to serve disadvantaged people by assisting them to obtain education and employment. For more than 25 years, JSF has awarded close to $125 million in education-related grants. JSF gives to economically disadvantaged students, people with disabilities, and Indigenous Peoples. For more information, please visit www.jsf.bz.

About Heritage University

Heritage University empowers a multi-cultural and inclusive student body to overcome the social, cultural, economic and geographic barriers that limit access to higher education. Rooted in the homeland of the Yakama Nation, we embrace transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society.