American Indian Graduate Center leads the charge in Indigneous-focused academic coaching

Rising Native Graduates to elevate Native voices in academic coversations

Albuquerque, New Mexico – September 21, 2020 –  Research indicates academic coaching and mentorship boost retention and academic performance among minority students. However, Native scholars are largely excluded from this research due to a lack of representation. Rising Native Graduates, American Indian Graduate Center’s premier academic coaching program, will make strides to better include Native voices in that conversation. 

According to a 2009 study, “Mentoring College Students: A Critical Review of the Literature between 1990 and 2007,” minority students who have received mentoring are twice as likely to persist as non-mentored minority students and to have higher GPAs. Researchers from a 2011 study, “The Effects of Student Coaching in College: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Mentoring,” calculated as much as a 10-percent to 15-percent increase in retention rates among undergraduate scholars who had received coaching and mentoring. 

“The research is clear: academic coaching and mentoring have a positive impact on students — particularly underrepresented students — pursuing graduate and professional education,” said Dr. Salena Beaumont Hill (Crow and Blackfeet Tribes of Montana), American Indian Graduate Center’s Rising Native Graduates Program Manager. “But it is equally evident that there is an opportunity gap between Indigenous students and other minority groups. These programs largely do not exist in Indigenous communities, which excludes our scholars from significant data sets.”  

With the recent launch of Rising Native Graduates, American Indian Graduate Center is paving the way for academic coaching in Native communities and informing academic coaching practices focused on graduate and professional school pursuits. As the first program of its kind, Rising Native Graduates seeks to bridge the opportunity gap for Indigenous scholars by offering increased access to graduate and professional degrees for American Indian and Alaska Native students through mentoring with a culturally appropriate and Indigenous centered approach. 

“By creating and offering this program with an Indigenous-centered approach, we have the opportunity to contribute to the future direction of Native education,” Beaumont Hill said. “We will empower scholars who are faced with institutional barriers and support them as they achieve their academic aspirations.” 

This is not the first time American Indian Graduate Center has impacted the landscape of Native education. In the past 50 years, the organization has empowered more than 16,000 Native students pursuing higher education by awarding more than $350 million in scholarships. In 1969 there were only 38 Native lawyers, 15 Native doctoral students and 30 Native medical doctors. As of 2019, American Indian Graduate Center has contributed to over 2,000 law degrees, 1,700 postgraduate degrees and 450 medical degrees for Native students. 

Both Rising Native Graduates Academic Coach and Scholar applications are due October 16. Learn more about Rising Native Graduates at

About Rising Native Graduates
Rising Native Graduates is American Indian Graduate Center’s premier academic coaching program available to Native undergraduate juniors and seniors pursuing graduate or professional school opportunities located within Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The program is funded by generous contributions from Wells Fargo and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which provides grants to organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.

About American Indian Graduate Center
American Indian Graduate Center is a national private 501(c)(3) non-profit providing scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate, graduate and professional students. American Indian Graduate Center and AIGCS are the largest scholarship providers to Native students in the United States. They award on average $15 million in scholarships annually and have awarded more than $350 million in scholarships since inception. They are proud to empower Native students from over 500 Tribes in all 50 states with educational funding and academic support services.