WINNEBAGO, Neb. | Tribal schools in Nebraska will get $2.1 million in federal funds over four years to promote college readiness for students in grades 5-8.

Ho-Chunk Community Development Corp. applied for the funds and will direct the grant distribution. Money will go to the Winnebago Tribe’s Education Department, Winnebago Public Schools, Walthill Public Schools and Boys and Girls Clubs Of Hocak Nisoc Haci in Winnebago.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that Ho-Chunk will receive $519,033 during the first year, to be released after Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The funds will benefit the Native Students College Vision Quest initiative, which is geared toward college readiness.

Winnebago Public Schools Superintendent Dan Fehringer said his school will receive about $130,000 this year. The money will allow the school system to keep two K-6 positions, a science teacher and a social studies teacher, that were previously funded with state grant money.

“We’re excited because we didn’t know what we were going to do when all these grants go away,” Fehringer said.

Brian Mathers, executive director of the nonprofit Ho-Chunk Community Development Corp., said the money will also be used to assist students and their families with mentoring, after-school and summer programs, college tours and other educational expenses.

“What we’re thinking is, it’s an attempt to demystify the college experience,” he said.

Mathers said the programs will help parents start planning for the cost associated with higher education. He added it will make career paths and education requirements more clear to students.

“They’re kind of challenged with the application process sometimes,” he said.

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