By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Education and Training was awarded the ACE Grant in the amount of $4,371,256 to be dispensed over the next five years. The ACE “Accessing Choices in Education” grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to MCN Department of Education and Training Federal Programs Administrator Sarah Price, it is an expansion of the Native Youth Community Project Demonstration Grant.
“ACE is all about accessibility for choices that support academic needs for students,” Price said. “We are looking to support about 2,000 students within our whole reservation.”
Price explains for this first year of the grant, lasting until Sept 30, 2021 is considered a year of non-service planning and will expend just under $600,000 of the grant funds.
“This planning year is so we can get the services set up,” Price said. “We will have a multitude of outside contractors for services. We have not named those contractor yet but everything we are offering will be research based.”
As of right now, the MCN Department of Education and Training has partnered with four districts for the purpose of the ACE Grant. Districts include Bearden, Ryal, Dewar and Eufaula along with other potential partnerships.
“We did a needs assessment to determine where the needs were,” Price said. “There were a lot of services available to services in urban school districts and a lot of services that aren’t in the rural areas. We looked at some indicators like the percentage of native students, economically disadvantaged, percentages of absences, truancies, ACT scores and those sort of things.”
Though these partnerships exist, funding regarding this program is available to any Native American/Alaskan Native student living within the Muscogee Reservation.
“At this moment, we have identified six options for services,” Price said. “Concurrent or dual enrollment, books, materials or education technologies, tutoring, testing and application fees including testing preparation, and a high school native studies class that is after school.”
Price says by Oct 1, 2021 a website will be developed where students and parents can access information and applications regarding the ACE Grant.
As of right now, details about the funding are being researched for specific uses and ways to determine funding limitations.
Price believes this grant will promote the success of current students and the future of the MCN.