Ak-Chin, Gila River students eligible for scholarship

Recipients of the Freeport-McMoRan Native American College Scholarship stand for a photo on March 7, 2023. Photo courtesy of Education Forward Arizona.

A Phoenix-based mining company is offering scholarships valued up to $3,000 for 150 Native American students for the 2023-24 school year.

The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation Native American College Scholarship Program made a five-year, $9 million commitment in 2022 to fund 300 college and trade school students for the duration of their education career. Students must be enrolled with one of 14 tribal communities in Arizona, which includes students from the Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian communities.

In 2022, one college student from Gila River was among 150 students awarded scholarships.

“We are hoping to get more applicants from Gila River and Ak-Chin this year,” said Myrna Cardenas, senior director of success services partnerships for Education Forward Arizona, which partnered with the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.

Scholarships are valued in three tiers. Students enrolled in four-year programs will be awarded $3,000 per semester and students in two-year programs will receive $1,500 per semester. Since the length of trade and technical programs vary, students will receive up to $15,000 for the duration of their program.

Cardenas said providing the scholarship for Native American students is critical to Arizona’s workforce.

“We know that we need to work with certain populations of students who might need more support, tribal communities being one of them,” Cardenas said. “Since Freeport-McMoRan works in those communities, they really want to support the people there and ensure that they’re getting an education.”

Arizona’s Native American population is 3.8%, while Maricopa’s population is 2.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

High school, full-time college undergraduates and trade school students are eligible to apply for scholarships. Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and be in good academic standing.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit the Freeport-McMoRan Native American College Scholarship Program’s application site.