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Rankin Foundation awards education grants to 51 Indigenous women

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News from the Jeannette Rankin Foundation

MISSOULA — The Jeannette Rankin Foundation, a national leader in making higher education accessible to women, recently awarded 51 grants totaling $127,500 to Indigenous women attending Montana Tribal colleges. The Rankin Foundation launched its Native Woman Scholar Grant program earlier this year. The program awards $2,500 Scholar Grants to women and nonbinary students 25 or older who are attending Montana Tribal colleges. 

Unlike traditional scholarships, the Rankin Foundation’s Scholar Grants are unrestricted and awarded directly to students helping ease students’ financial burden while they work to achieve their first associate’s or bachelor’s degree or complete a technical or vocational education. Every year, 87% of Rankin Foundation Scholars either graduate or continue with their education, compared to the demographic average of 8-31%.

“We are thrilled to now offer the agile support of our Scholar Grants and our network of support to Indigenous women in Jeannette Rankin’s home state of Montana,” said Michele Ozumba, president of the Rankin Foundation. “These 51 Indigenous women are inspirations to their families, their communities and all of us as they work to transform their lives through education.”

To advise on the delivery of the program, the Rankin Foundation formed a board of leaders from Indigenous and higher education communities. This advisory board includes Dr. Sandra Boham, president of Salish Kootenai College; Tiffany Gusbeth, vice president of student success services at the American Indian College Fund; Misty Kuhl, Montana’s director of Indian Affairs; Amy Leary, executive director of Montana Post Secondary Educational Opportunities Council; and Dr. Kathryn Shanley, University of Montana professor and special assistant to the Provost Native American and Indigenous Education.

“I am working towards my Associate’s Degree in the Native Language Teacher Education (NLTE) program at the Salish Kootenai College,” Sara Meyers, a recipient of one of the grants, commented. “My goal is to earn high grades, be further connected to my culture and work towards a second degree in another area of interest. I want to be a part of the revival of our Salish language. With my education, I aim to be a Salish Language teacher and encourage others to get their education, be rooted in their culture, and serve their community.”

“Educated women build the communities where we want to live and work,” said Dr. Sandra Boham, president of Salish Kootenai College. “Women have always held important roles in Native communities. The impact of education for Native women is that it empowers women to achieve economic independence, build self confidence and allow for the integration of Indigenous knowledge, culture and language into all aspects of the workplaces and organizations in the communities where they live.”

The Rankin Foundation will begin accepting applications for its second round of Native Woman Scholar Grants November 2023. Indigenous students who meet the following requirements are invited to apply: identify as a woman/nonbinary; are over the age of 25 by June 1, 2024; and can show proof of enrollment in a Montana Tribal College, Tribal affiliation and Pell/SNAP eligibility. Sixty grants will be awarded on a first come first served basis beginning May 2024. 

The Rankin Foundation was founded in 1976 at the bequest of Jeannette Rankin who was elected by Montanans as the first U.S. Congresswoman and the first woman to hold federal office. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $4 million to students across the country. To learn more about Rankin Foundation grant opportunities or to support the next generation of Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholars, visit:

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