Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force is extending the deadline for tribal colleges to apply for a grant to start a missing persons database. That’s after no one applied the first time around.
One of the state task force’s key mandates is to award the Looping in Native Communities grant, a $25,000 matching fund meant to help create a missing persons database.
No tribal colleges applied by the deadline last Friday.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Ellie Bundy-McLeod said.
Bundy-McLeod is a former tribal college employee and newly elected Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal councilmember who sits on the state task force. She says the initial month-and-a-half application window was too short for tribal colleges to gather all the information they needed, like their plan for meeting data verification and security standards.
“Then I think there are concerns about...is $25,000 enough to do what’s required,” Bundy-McLeod said.
The bill that created the grant and task force, State Senate Bill 213, says the database must be administered by a data specialist who meets certain qualifications.
Tina Chamberlain, the LINC grant coordinator with the Montana Department of Justice, says the size of the grant isn’t what stopped colleges from applying.
“The funding is not an issue,” Chamberlain said. “It’s simply a matter of the timing and having the appropriate people submit an application.”
Chamberlain says leading up to the first deadline, she spoke with all seven of Montana’s tribal college presidents at a meeting for AIHEC, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. She also says she reached out to each college president to make sure they got a copy of the application.
The task force decided to extend the application deadline to January 25th in a Thursday conference call. The chosen college will be announced and awarded the grant no later than mid-February of next year.
No tribal college presidents could be reached.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.