Hopi Education Endowment Fund: A Historic Decision
As a non-gaming tribe, the Hopi Tribe derives a majority of its revenue from natural resources located on the 1.8 million acre reservation. The revenue source, coal, is not only finite but also precarious from year-to-year as the revenue is calculated based on the amount mined. The impending closure of the Mohave Generating station and lease negotiation with the coal supplier, Peabody Coal Company, became reality when operations ceased on December 31, 2005.
With values instilled through traditional teachings, Hopi tribal leaders today still follow the visions of leaders before them as each has an aspiration to ensure educational opportunities will continue to exist for the Hopi people. Recognizing education as a high priority the Hopi Tribe knew the need to provide a secure source of funds for education.
In November of 2000, the Hopi Tribal council set that vision in motion. Through tribal law, Ordinance #54, and as a form of community investment, the Tribal Council created the fund by allocating the first gift of $10 million dollars from tribal coffers into the perpetually endowed fund: The Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF)
The ordinance also established the HEEF as a 7871(a) charitable, non-profit public benefit program for educational programs and purposes of the Hopi Tribe. As outlined in Ordinance #54 the main purposes of the HEEF are to provide perpetual funding for:
• Financial assistance to Hopi students of all ages
• Educational research
• Educational Programs
• Charitable and Educational Activities
What is an Endowment?
Definition: Basically... A savings account that lasts forever (in perpetuity) from which only earned income (dividends, interest, capital gains, etc) is spent while the principal (in our case $10 million) remains untouched forever.
As an endowment, the Fund's assets are held in trust in perpetuity and only the income of the Fund's principle is expended in support and maintenance of the educational needs of the members of the Hopi Tribe.
However, although endowment by name, since inception the HEEF has operated much like a foundation in awarding grants and funding to various organizations on a yearly basis awarding over $8 million to date, to various educational programs of the Hopi Tribe.
Through the foresight of the Hopi Tribe in creating the HEEF, current and future generations of Hopi students will have educational funding available, however, with increasing numbers of Hopi students graduating high school and pursuing post-secondary education, in addition to educational costs, stagnate higher education appropriations from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the HEEF's biggest challenge is ensuring the continued growth of viable funding sources for Hopi education programs now and into the future.
Realizing the ever-growing need for educational funding, it is the job and mission of HEEF to continually raise funds on behalf of Hopi educational endeavors and this is accomplished through several ways including: Investments, Grants/Proposals and other fundraising activities.
The HEEF believes that the pillars of good governance are:
Checks & Balances
Customer Service Oriented
Working in Partnership