Providing targeted support to end the high school dropout crisis and support Alaska's rural communities, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced plans to award a three-year, $1.2 million grant to support Project Puqigtut in Anchorage public schools.
"Keeping students in school and bringing them back to the classroom are vitally important issues for this community and our nation's future," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is visiting Anchorage today as the first stop in a three-day trip to Alaska as part of the White House Rural Tour. "Partnership programs such as Project Puqigtut should be supported and expanded to combat America's high school dropout crisis. If successful, this program could serve as a model to be replicated in other school districts across the nation."
The Department of Education will award the Anchorage School District's Project Puqigtut $521,502 for fiscal year 2009 under the federal education agency's Alaska Native Education Program. Future federal plans for this three-year grant call for Project Puqigtut to receive nearly $700,000 per year from the Education Department in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
Project Puqigtut provides assistance to Alaska Native high school students who have left high school or who are at risk of dropping out. Working with local Alaska Native organizations, vocational training centers and area postsecondary institutions, students are provided academic and culturally appropriate support to help them complete coursework and earn credit toward high school graduation requirements. The project would serve an estimated 600 students over three years.
The U.S. Education Department's Alaska Native Education Program supports efforts to meet the unique educational needs of Alaska Natives by awarding competitive grants to innovative projects addressing those distinct educational needs. Along with educational institutions, eligible recipients include Alaska Native organizations as well as cultural and community-based groups.
Duncan joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on the rural tour through Alaska this week. They are listening to and learning from Alaskans about the challenges and opportunities in rural education, health, economic development, infrastructure, energy, natural resources, and agriculture.