Hopi Tribal Sovereignty Raising Funds for College Scholarships

The Hopi Education Endowment Fund protects and grows an endowment for college scholarships and educational attainment for students of the Hopi Tribe, one of 22 federally recognized Tribes in Arizona. Hopi villages are not only some of the oldest communities in Arizona, but in the United States. In fact, the village of Oraibi has been credited as the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S. by anthropologists. Hopi people have done their best to maintain their language and Hopi way of life, while also adapting to modern living.

For Hopi, higher education has become a significant demand. The HEEF board and staff work together to devise fundraising strategies and investments to meet the need. Hopi students have become very diverse, some having lived their entire lives on reservations, while others are being raised off the reservation, away from their culture and language. The HEEF serves both populations, as their needs go beyond educational scholarships. For example, in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit universities and colleges, a large number of students were displaced from their campuses. Many Hopi students did not own laptops, printers and other technology needed for online

The HEEF created a campaign to bridge the technology gap and provided students with computers, laptops, tablets, printers, etc. to ensure they could continue their education online. The HEEF also awards IMAGINE grants to organizations that serve the Hopi population in educational capacities. These grants have helped organizations with programs that focus on language revitalization, elder/youth programs, traditional agricultural practices, cultural and educational classes, drug prevention programs and other areas.

The HEEF, which offers the same tax benefits as nonprofits, was created in 2000 and is working on expanding its reach to make this funding available for Hopi students long into the future. The model has been an inspiration, as nonprofit organizations from other Tribes have reached out to the HEEF to learn about and possibly replicate its trailblazing model.

To learn more, visit hopieducationfund.org

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