About Us

The AIS Mission

Our mission is to provide education to Native Americans in need through scholarships and programs while ensuring that their cultural values are preserved.

Who We Are

AIS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Each year, we provide thousands of college scholarships to Native Americans from over 300 federally recognized tribes. Our students attend over 400 accredited colleges, universities and trade schools.

Other Programs

AIS PREP – In partnership with Utah State University, AIS established a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Program for 7th-8th grade students in Blanding and Roosevelt.

AIS Literacy – In partnership with the Ken Garff Road to Success program, AIS helps provide literacy programs in 11 predominantly Native American schools to help students increase their progress in reading, in an effort to combat the high dropout rate of children between K-12th grades.

AIS Mentoring – In partnership with the San Juan Foundation, AIS helps provide mentoring programs for K-12th grade students at under-performing schools on or near the reservation.

The Problem and Need

Living conditions on many Indian reservations are comparable to third-world countries. Employment rates, education attainment and income are among the lowest in the nation. The poverty rate is nearly double on reservations than it is for all Americans, and can reach up to 85% on certain reservations. Many households live without necessities such as electricity and clean water, and illnesses such as diabetes and alcoholism run rampant.

Addressing a Solution

Education is the foundation that can begin to resolve even the most challenging issues. It is common belief that all American Indians attend college for free thanks to tribal funding, federal funding or revenue generated by casinos. Although those resources can be of assistance, they are not nearly enough to cover the educational costs of all American Indian students living in extreme poverty. Many have to look elsewhere for financial help.

The History in Dealing with American Indians

“Federal Policies designed to subjugate and assimilate American Indians and Alaska Natives have changed to policies that promote Indian self-determination.” – Bureau of Indian Affairs. This is a mantra that we follow. By providing the gift of education to American Indians, our goal is not for the students to assimilate with the rest of the population. We fully support the preservation of beautiful American Indian cultures, and seek to strengthen them through education. Educated American Indians will be able to provide much needed support to their local community, which will create positive change for all future generations.

Early Intervention

To combat the high school dropout rates that affect American Indians, AIS sponsors a Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (PREP) for students entering junior high school. Participants complete rigorous classes over three consecutive summers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. A 33% median student improvement was observed in a recent PREP program.

Other Programs

In partnership with the San Juan foundation, AIS is currently sponsoring a mentoring program in public schools. AIS also works with various school boards and the Garff Foundation in running “Road to Success,” a reading program that encourages and incentivizes students to read every day.

Our Pledge

All of our administrative expenses are generously covered by board members. This means that 100% of your tax-deductible donation is used to fund scholarships or educational programs for Native-Americans.

Donations can be made in the following forms:

  • One-time
  • Monthly
  • Annually
  • Endowment Gift

Executive Board Members

Bob Nilsen

Bob Nilsen
President

Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones
Board Member

Dave Nielson

Dave Nielson
Board Member

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Ron Seamons
Board Member

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Ken Woolley
Vice President & Treasurer

Todd Miller

Todd Miller
Board Member

Kathleen Nilsen

Kathleen Nilsen
Board Member

David Wadman 1 - Copy

David Wadman
Board Member

Brad Brown

Bradford Brown
Board Member

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Jefferson Moss
Board Member

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Gordon F. Ostler
Board Member

Harding Walker

Harding H. Walker
Board Member

Office Staff

Jay Brasher

Jay L. Brasher
Executive Director

Ireen Toelupe

Ireen Toelupe Kaanapu
Scholarship Department

Dale Tingey

Dale T. Tingey, PhD
Founding Director (Emeritus)

Bonnie Mausia

Bonnie Mausia
Fundraising Department

Sylvia McMillan

Sylvia McMillan, PhD
Assistant Director & General Manager

Dori Stone

Dori Stone
Finance Department

Income and Expenses

Donors

JOHNNY MILLER

“You couldn’t pick a better cause and you couldn’t do a better thing for young people than to help them get an education. They have got to work hard to match the funds of American Indian Services. But every little bit that anyone can contribute, I can tell you that one hundred percent of it goes to help those students. These are a magnificent people, a very bright people, they just need a chance.”

STEVE YOUNG

“I’m convinced that you and I have something very important in common. We both want to reach out beyond our past areas of accomplishment. You and I want to Leave a Legacy — a meaningful and lasting legacy that benefits many people — even whole generations — a legacy that reaches way beyond our own life and times.

American Indians are not ignorant people. These are a people who have not had opportunity, and education is the key that will open the door of opportunity. Only when they are educated can they themselves provide the goods and services they and their families need.”

CARMEN BRADLEY

“The person being funded will have a child, and that child will see that Mom or Dad did go to college and better themselves and then it will continue education for generations and generations and not stop there . . . that ís why you should give to American Indian Services, because they are out to benefit the Native Americans as a whole.”

BLAKE RONEY

“I get approached by a lot of charitable opportunities, and its hard to know which ones to help. This is one of the more leveraged opportunities I’m aware of for a number of reasons – you take a bright, gentle people who arrive in circumstances in which it is hard for them to move forward as helpers in society. And you add just this little sour dough starter education opportunity. You’re not paying for the whole education, but just enough to get them there and they can make up the difference, and you have a permanent impact on a family.”

Past Recipients

JAMES TROSPER

“Education is so far reaching, not only do you learn how to do what ever it is to do that you are learning such as math, science, chemistry or whatever it is — it goes way beyond that. It helps us in our everyday lives in our decision making, in the way that we think, and in the way that we deal with people.”

MONIKA BROWN CROWFOOT

BYU, Early Childhood Education
“What I’d like to do is go back to the reservation and teach the youth in the elementary schools so they can become motivated and learn to love learning.”

NEPHI SANCHEZ

“I received a scholarship from American Indians Services and I have greatly appreciated the help they have given me. It has helped me to study my major, which is business management with an emphasis in finance.”

VANESSA ARVISO

“A college education allows you to explore many different avenues and different endeavors that many people, especially the Native Americans, do not have the opportunity to experience on the reservations.”

SENECA C S HOUSE

USC, Master Real Estate Development
May 2016
“Wow, I applied for this scholarship consecutively for more than five years and it brings me great pleasure to know that the AIS Staff and generous donors believed in me. None of this would’ve been possible without the assistance of the AIS Scholarship, I thank you. I encourage others to continue to apply and to believe in yourself, and remember that anything is possible. FIGHT ON!”