The NAYA Scholarship Fund—Changing Lives

The NAYA Scholarship Fund—Changing Lives

With the rising cost of living, the idea of pursuing higher education can seem even more out of reach for many of our students. Having enough to cover tuition and expenses can prevent prospective students from taking that important step of going to college. With the community’s help, our students can realize their college and career dreams. 

Help send a student to college! Donate to the NAYA Scholarship Fund.

Financial hardship is often cited as the main reason why Native students do not go on to college—even when they are accepted. Lack of money can also cause students to drop out once they have enrolled. Our scholarship fund allows students to concentrate on their education, free of financial worries. Your gift today can create brighter futures! 

Please, consider contributing to the fund; education changes lives. Studies have shown that children whose parents attended college are much more likely to pursue higher education and graduate themselves. For Native communities who fall behind other groups in educational attainment, a single child’s ability to graduate from college can change their entire family’s educational and economic trajectory for generations to come.  

But don’t take it solely from us. Previous scholarship recipients have committed to paying it forward, saying they are resolute in their desire to uplift their communities. Many Nations Academy (MNA) Class of 2021 graduate Leya Descombes (Iñupiaq), who is studying criminal justice at Portland State University, shared, “I want to take care of my people and make sure the next generation has a good place to live, has a place of support and knows where that is, and that they have a community that is strong with a deeply rooted support system.”  

The scholarship fund has impacted the lives of numerous students since its inception in 2015 (previously known as the Early College Academy [ECA] Scholars Scholarship). Paulina Gutierrez, MNA Class of 2019, is continuing her college education thanks to the fund, focusing on interdisciplinary studies with a concentration on anthropology, humanities, and social science at Western Oregon University.   

“I plan on using the skills and understanding I have developed to advocate for large policy changes that will ultimately impact my community and the Native American community nationally,” Paulina said.   

Another student, Christian Sidney Hopchas (Tlingit), who enrolled in the EMT program at Portland Community College, said the support NAYA has provided gives him hope for the future and keeps him pushing toward success, “when I’d otherwise feel abandoned and directionless. I hope to use my education to give back in the ways NAYA has given to me,” he said.  

Keep an eye on our social media accounts, where we’ll be sharing the aspirations and achievements of NAYA’s scholarship recipients throughout August.   

Education has been the cornerstone of NAYA’s wraparound programming since our founding nearly 50 years ago. We honor student achievements at all ages and stages in their educational journeys, providing support for their parents and families, celebrating their commitment to themselves and their communities.  

The NAYA Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to students based on achievement, financial need, and demonstrated commitment to family and the community. Current or former NAYA program participants, intending to pursue their education at an accredited college, university or trade school are eligible.  

To prospective applicants, there is no limit on the number of times that a person may apply and compete for this scholarship, and we can help! If the idea of filling out a scholarship application feels overwhelming, then join us during College Nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4–6 p.m. NAYA staff will be on hand to help applicants.  For more information visit NAYA’s website or email College and Career Readiness Manager Auna Castellón, or text/call 971-325-4803.