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Helmsley Trust, N.D. Challenge grant fund endowed scholarships for NDSU American Indian public health program

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded North Dakota State University's Master of Public Health program $750,000 to create the first endowed scholarship fund in the nation for graduate students in American Indian public health. The state of North Dakota has provided an additional $375,000 through the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund.

The NDSU program is the only one in the United States designed specifically to prepare graduates to work with American Indian populations.

Dr. Donald Warne, director of the NDSU program, said in addition to encouraging more students to apply by helping them financially, the endowed scholarships will benefit North Dakota’s underserved citizens.

“People in rural areas, especially American Indians, often have difficulty accessing quality health services because of lower than average incomes, geographic isolation and a severe shortage of health professionals,” Warne said. “Many of the students in this program are from underserved communities right here in North Dakota, and their plans are to go back and work with those populations.”

Shelley Stingley, program director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program, said, “The Trust is delighted to support NDSU in this pioneering effort to develop and sustain the workforce of health professionals who are committed to serve American Indians, perhaps the most medically underserved population in the nation. We applaud the state of North Dakota for its investment in this important initiative.”

The endowment fund will provide scholarships of approximately $10,000, four per year in perpetuity. Two students in their first year of the two-year track will receive scholarships and, based on academic performance,  will be eligible for a second year of funding. The NDSU Development Foundation will administer the fund and make the first scholarship awards for the fall 2016 semester.

NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani thanked the Helmsley Trust for its generosity and vision. "NDSU truly appreciates the investment the Helmsley Charitable Trust has made in rural health in North Dakota,” he said. “This private-public collaboration is a true model for developing and enhancing programs that significantly impact the lives of the state’s students and citizens.” 

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant making, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. For more information on the Trust and its programs, www.helmsleytrust.org.

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North Dakota State University
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