Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is now accepting applications for Sealaska scholarships for the 2021–2022 academic year, and thanks to a motion by the Sealaska board in October, more funding than ever will be available.
In the 2019–2020 academic year, scholarship eligibility was expanded to include both full- and part-time students attending accredited colleges, universities and vocational-technical schools at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Previously, only full-time students were eligible, and with the expansion of eligibility came a surge in demand.
Sealaska’s board responded by voting in October to add an additional $2.5 million to the endowment that funds scholarships, ensuring that funding would continue to meet the demand of shareholders and descendants interested in pursuing their educational goals.
“The part-time track is more realistic for a lot of people. We are happy to meet people where they’re at as they pursue their educational goals,” said Joe Nelson, Sealaska board chair. “At the end of the day, their success is all of our success. Today’s workforce demands some postsecondary training for meaningful advancement.”
In May, Sealaska announced it would award $1.34 million in funding to 553 students for the 2020–2021 academic year, a marked increase from the $880,000 it awarded the year prior. The number of students who qualified for support was up by nearly 200 over the previous academic year, due in large part to the expansion of the program to part-time students.
Brian James was one of the first part-time students to receive scholarship support from Sealaska. He’s 51 years old and lives in the Seattle area, where he works in the health care industry. One of his goals is to get a job as a tribal liaison for his current employer, but the position requires a bachelor’s degree. The extension of eligibility to working professionals like himself is “honestly life changing,” he said.
The board’s resolution authorizes the additional funds to be allocated to the scholarship endowment, bringing the total restricted principal to $15 million. The earnings on the principal are used to provide scholarships.
SHI administers the scholarship application screening and award process on behalf of Sealaska. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2021. However, SHI is offering a $50 incentive to those who complete their scholarship application on or before February 1 and who are accepted as scholarship recipients. Students can access the scholarship application by creating an account at MySealaska.com. Awards will be made to Alaska Native Sealaska shareholders and descendants enrolled full- or part-time in accredited colleges, universities and voc-tech schools. Student must also have a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Calling all former Sealaska scholarship recipients!
Are you a former scholarship recipient? Or do you know someone who is? We want to hear from you! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how education has shaped your journey. Be sure to include a photo.