As Native Forward Scholars Fund begins to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it is important to look back at the history of the organization and the people whose foresight and vision led to the creation of Native Forward Scholars Fund.
- Boarding School Era – Indian Boarding School Policy established by the Federal Government, utilizing education to “kill the Indian, save the man” in an attempt to assimilate Tribal people
- The BIA reports 13 American Indian graduate students in the entire nation
- Robert Bennett assists in establishing the National Indian Scholarship Program at the University of New Mexico, which would later be absorbed by AIGC
- John Rainer lays the groundwork to form American Indian Scholarship, Inc, which would later become AIGC
- Robert Bennett becomes director of UNM’s American Indian Law Center
- The American Indian Graduate Scholarship Program Committee (AIGC), John Rainer presiding, holds its first meeting
- AIGC (AIS) Awards first two recipients fall of 1970, Donald McCabe & Vincent Knight.
- Robert Bennett, David Warren, and Joe Sando sign the articles of incorporation, and the program title is changed to American Indian Scholarships, Inc
- AIGC (AIS) moves the office to John Rainer’s property in Taos Pueblo
- AIGC’s 1st Scholarship endowment is established by the Blue Spruce family in honor of Dr. Beryl Blue Spruce.
- AIGC (AIS) Awards 22 students (12 men and 10 women ) fellowships in the amount of $21,397. The average award was $973.
- The Reagan administration reduces funding for all levels of Indian higher education from $282 million to $169 million
- To address the decrease in funding, John Rainier implemented outreach efforts which resulted in significant new funding streams for the organization.
- AIGC (AIS) assists 158 students (80 women and 78 men) by providing an average fellowship award of $3,700.
- John Rainer participates in a Senate Budget Committee field hearing on science and math education, in Albuquerque, and later testifies before the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee of Interior Affairs, urging funding for Indian higher education.
- The House of Representatives approves the recommendation of a $978,000 BIA Contract.
- John Rainer retires on December 31st.
- AIGC (AIS) welcomes new Executive Director, Lorraine Edmo
- The first AIGC Annual Report is produced.
- AIGC (AIS) offices are relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico
- AIGC (AIS) starts a newsletter, The American Indian Graduate Record. This later transitioned into the American Indian Graduate magazine.
- The two BIA Indian graduate programs are consolidated. Administration of the Indian Law Scholarship program is transferred from the American Indian Law Center to AIGC (AIS).
- AICG awards $1.6 million in fellowships. It was estimated that students had an additional $500,000 in unmet needs.
- The Board redefines AIGC (AIS) as a multi-service, rather than a sole scholarship organization and enters cooperative efforts with other National Native groups and Tribal scholarship offices.
- AIGC awards 292 students (152 women and 140 men). The numbers for the fields of study were Law (103 recipients), Health (83), Education (63), Business (32), Engineering (7), Religious Studies (2), Natural Resources (1), and Fine Arts (1).
- The organization's name is formally changed to “American Indian Graduate Center” to reflect its expansion into becoming a national center, including additional services and programming. The change also helped communicate AIGC’s mission of producing graduate and professional degree recipients.
- John Rainer and Robert Bennett are honored at the 20th-anniversary event.
- AIGC receives its first legacy gift. At her passing Elizabeth Furber bequests ¼ of her estate to AIGC for the Elizabeth Furber Scholarship Trust.
- AIGC receives 763 applications and awards 427 fellowships (237 women and 190 men)
- AIGC surveys all federally recognized tribes to identify future employment needs. The top ten professional needs are (in order): business managers, lawyers, accountants, natural resources managers, doctors, teachers, counselors, financial analysts, engineers, and computer technicians. Additional survey information revealed that an estimated 89% of tribal members earned $20,000 or less and that only 3% had a college degree.
- AIGC awards 538 students, with the highest numbers being Law (161), Health (160), followed by Education (59) and Business (49)
- AIGC welcomes new Executive Director, Norbert S. Hill, Jr
- AIGC is selected to administer the Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS) Program for American Indian/Alaska Natives, resulting in the doubling of AIGC staff and office space. American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGCS) affiliate is formed to manage the program, expanding service to undergraduates.
- John Rainer passes on September 22.
- The Council of 100 inaugural meeting is held in September. The council is composed of distinguished leaders, scholars, and traditional individuals, who will serve as ambassadors for AIGC to foster Native student leadership, growth, and development.
- AIGC begins publishing “The American Indian Graduate” magazine.
- Robert Bennett passes on July 11.
- The first John Rainer Memorial Fellowships are awarded.
- AIGC receives the largest amount of endowments in its history, ensuring the sustainability of the many scholarship programs.
- AIGC partners with Accenture, LLP to administer its first corporate scholarship program.
- All Native American High School Academic Team program is established to provide support to high school seniors with high academic performance.
- The National Scholarship Providers Association names the American Indian Graduate Center as the 2005-2006 Scholarship Provider of the Year.
- AIGC welcomes new Executive Director Sam Deloria.
- AIGC receives the YAWA award for education, from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
- AIGC launches online scholarship application services
- The Gates Millennium Scholars Program reaches the goal of 20,000 scholars and the class of 2016 was the final cohort. Through AIGCS, the program empowered 2,715 outstanding Native students and supported them throughout their educational journey.
- AIGC welcomes new Executive Director Angelique Albert.
- AIGC college prep program Know Before “U” Go receives NAFOA’s Education Program. of the Year award
- AIGC launches the Making the Grad Student of the Month Program.
- AIGC received the Chairman’s Leadership Award from the National Indian Gaming Association.
- AIGC implements a new strategic direction of holistic student support programming based on 20 years of data and informed best practices from the GMS program supporting the expansion of our partnerships with Tribes, corporations, foundations, and individuals.
- Inducted inaugural AIGC Students of the Year, Rebecca St. Germaine (Graduate) and Brook Thompson (Undergraduate) were honored at the National Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow and Convention.
- With the sunsetting of GMS, AIGC builds two new departments that result in the increased student programs and diversified revenue
- AIGC launches a new brand reflecting our vision: successfully empowering our students alongside their support systems.
- AIGC awarded 1,340 students. The average award amount was $10,408 and the average unmet need for students was $22,552.
- AIGC collaborates with 8th Generation and three alumnae artists to create the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Blanket. Janelle Cronin, Maka Monture, and Brittany Gene were the alumni artists selected from a national competition to design the blanket.
- American Indian Graduate Center celebrates a collective impact of $200,000,000 in scholarship and student support services offered to over 16,000 American Indian/Alaska Native students since inception. AIGC administers over 20 scholarship opportunities, in addition to offering support services that are designed specifically to address the needs of Native students in post-secondary education.
- AIGC rebrands to become Native Forward Scholars Fund.