Efforts to support Native American students at NAU recently got a financial boost from the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

The tribe, located in the Santa Cruz Valley in southern Arizona, has donated more than $237,000 toward the university’s efforts to enhance the academic and personal experiences of its Native American students.

According to the Community’s Tribal Council, it “has been impressed with NAU’s drive and ownership in educating and supporting Native students.”

NAU’s peer-mentoring program for Native American freshman, scholarship programs and tutoring assistance will benefit from the donation.

“The wonderful gift will contribute significantly to NAU’s goals to develop Native American leadership opportunities, assistance to students in need, and most importantly in the ability to keep our students in school working toward degree completion,” said Catherine Talakte, director of Native American Student Services at NAU.

NAU aspires to be the nation’s leading university serving Native Americans and has launched a $5 million “Native Roots, Native Futures” fundraising campaign to build a central facility, strengthen Native programming and expand scholarships to recruit, retain and graduate Native American students.

“A portion of the gift will go toward designing the new Native American cultural center that will greatly benefit the campus community, Flagstaff community and tribal nations,” Talakte said.

The center not only will serve NAU’s Native American faculty, staff and students, it also will serve the broader campus in increasing its understanding of Native American culture, history and issues, Talakte said.

For the past five years, NAU ranked nationally in the top 10 institutions for enrollment of Native American students. It is in the top five for awarding Native Americans undergraduate and graduate degrees. More than 1,300 Native American students represent 62 tribes at the university.

Information about NAU’s Native programs and services is online.