BSU and NTC awarded grant to help underserved students

Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College have been awarded nearly $500,000 through the Governor’s Emergency Educational Relief grant funding for a project to deliver technology for distance learning to students in need.

The three-year, $499,932 grant was written and submitted by American Indian Resource Center Executive Director Chrissy Koch; BSU Chief Information Officer Dr. Sherry Lawdermilt, and Grant Writer Jenna Trisko.

“We focused on how we could best support our American Indian and other underrepresented students during these uncertain times,” Koch said.

“We want to provide technological support for those who may not have the means necessary to successfully remain in a distance learning or online platform. This program is an opportunity for us to open the door to these students — whether it was in the form of material items like laptops or assuring they have sufficient Wi-Fi services to accommodate their courses.”

The grant is part of a U.S. Department of Education program that awarded a total of $5.3 million to Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz for the purpose of providing the state’s colleges and universities and other education‐related entities with emergency assistance due to COVID‐19.

“The GEER grant will also serve as a pilot project to assess if diminishing technology barriers impact student retention and persistence,” Trisko said.

“It was a highly competitive grant, but with the assistance and input from a few dozen individuals we put together a compelling project that will benefit some of our most in-need students over the next few years.”


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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