In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind partnership in the country, the National Tribal Development Association (NTDA) and Holy Cross School have established a permanent endowment fund that will provide scholarships to students of Native American descent.
The NTDA, a non-profit that promotes the economic vitality of Native Americans by setting up cooperative relationships in the private and public sectors, will fund an annual award equal to two full tuitions to be divided equally among incoming or current Holy Cross students who meet the criteria of Native-American lineage. The scholarship program will be overseen by the school’s board of directors.
“We’re hoping this will be an outreach program that will attract students not only from the New Orleans area, but from around the country,” said Charles DiGange, Holy Cross headmaster, at a ceremony recognizing the first of the scholarship’s recipients – sixth graders James Sixkiller, Conner Cheramie and Jack Kelly.
While the three all hail from the New Orleans area, DiGange foresees the opportunity to place Native American students from outside Louisiana within local host families. Upon graduation, these students will return to their local communities with “the best education they could possibly get,” DiGange said.
The funds are being dispensed though a U.S. Department of Treasury program that encourages non-profit institutions to work with for-profit entities and financial institutions to invest in projects of community benefit. Holy Cross came to the attention of the Montana-based NTDA when a local attorney told the group of the school’s remarkable story of rebirth after Hurricane Katrina.
“I can’t imagine a better recipient than Holy Cross,” said Michael Guillot, Holy Cross’ assistant headmaster for institutional advancement, who led NTDA representatives on a campus tour last spring.
“This group was looking to invest in the city of New Orleans in an appropriate project, and we represent the kind of areas (where) the Department of Treasury wants this reinvestment to occur,” Guillot said. “They want institutions to invest in areas where the need and the community benefit is the greatest, and obviously, Holy Cross and the city represent that.”
Guillot brought the news of the partnership to last spring’s meeting of the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc., which drew 26 Native American leaders from the eastern seaboard and southern United States to Marksville, La.
In his presentation on Holy Cross’ 160-year history in New Orleans, Guillot told the group what the school has meant for “generations of young men, not only in the (local) community, but around the world.”
“There was a great deal of interest that for some of their young men, this might be just the place for their children to receive their education,” Guillot said. “Our hope is that over the years, we will develop relationships all around the nation – that young men will come here, stay with host families for any number of years, and benefit from a Holy Cross education. And we would benefit from their presence, their culture and the diversity.”
Guillot said the school’s founder, Blessed Father Basil Moreau, was “quite clear” from the very beginning that his school would serve a diverse population.
In addition to the scholarship fund, the partnership is providing new markets tax credits toward construction of Holy Cross’ new cafeteria, a 7,000-square-foot amenity scheduled for completion in the fall 2012.
“We’re probably one of the few institutions in the United States that has received such an enormous new markets tax credit (funding),” DiGange said, noting that the total amount is nearing $14 million. “People think that FEMA gave us everything (to rebuild after Katrina). They gave us a lot, but a lot came out of Holy Cross’ pocket and a lot came from new markets tax credits.”
For more information, call Brian Kitchen at (504) 942-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.