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Bard College in Hudson, New York, has received a cumulative $50 million from two charity foundations to support the development and expansion of its Indigenous Studies program.

The funding will back a pivot in the college’s programming to expand its American Studies Program — now renamed the Native American and Indigenous Studies — “to place Native American and Indigenous Studies at the heart of curricular innovation and development,” the college said in a statement. 

The $50 million — supported by the Gochman Family Foundation and matched by the Open Society Foundation — will also go toward increasing student enrollment from marginalized communities through scholarship funding.

 According to the school’s website, approximately 1,800 undergraduate students are attending Bard College. Of its incoming student body class this fall, one percent of students self-reported as Native American or Alaska Native; another one percent said they were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; and eight percent identified as multi-racial.

Funds will also go toward increasing Native American public programming, visiting scholars and publishing, the college said in a statement.

To carry out the work, Bard College will consult with Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation), executive director at the Forge Project — a new Native-led initiative based in upstate New York that works to decolonize education. Additionally, Hopkins will join the faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard in the newly established role of Fellow in Indigenous Art History and Curatorial Studies.

Hopkins said that the funding, paired with Bard College’s mission, represents “institutional change” by reducing barriers to higher education for Native students while also bolstering Indigenous programming and staff to serve them.

 “These lands are layered with histories that are inextricably bound by the displacement and forced removal of Indigenous peoples, yet also rich with knowledge,” Hopkins said in a statement. “This gift provides the basis for the future building of this knowledge, to shift and expand discourses across fields of study, whether it be in Indigenous and American studies, art history, or curatorial practice.”

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