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Grant boosts student parents at Montana tribal college

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Eric Tegethoff

(Big Sky Connection) A grant is helping student parents at a college in northwestern Montana. 

The Aspen Institute has announced Blackfeet Community College and seven other institutes around the country have joined the Black and Native Family Futures Fund. 

Linda Sue Racine is a counselor and the coordinator of the $75,000 grant at the school. She said COVID-19 hit the Blackfeet Reservation hard and many students are grieving.

"To be able to get good grades and all that you need to have some peace in your life," said Racine. "And I always feel that if we're not well mentally and emotionally and physically, then we're not going to be able to succeed."

The grant comes with technical assistance to implement programs as well. Blackfeet Community College is setting up the Native Student Parent Program, which will help young mothers with child care, food and transportation.

Racine said elders also are helping with the program. She said workshops for the young mothers include making traditional outfits for their kids.

"We just don't want our people to lose their cultural and their traditional way of life," said Racine. "So it's very important that we integrate it in everything we do."

The eight institutions that received funding are Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.