WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that $4,690,161 in grant funds will be provided to 16 tribal colleges in eight states.

The funds are being provided through the USDA Rural Development Tribal College Initiative Grant program.

"These grants will help make necessary improvements to facilities on every campus," said Johanns. "The Tribal College Initiative Grant program strengthens our bond with these important institutions."

Funding through the program is provided through a nationwide competitive process and is used to develop essential community facilities that may include clinics, transitional housing, administrative buildings, childcare centers, libraries, museums, food preparation centers and emergency equipment.

Seven colleges in Montana will each receive $300,000 grants this year. The Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, Mont., will use its funds to help construct a 3,840 square foot dormitory. The Stone Child College in Box Elder, Mont., will purchase equipment to establish a technology laboratory and two technology/vocational education classrooms.

In Washington State, the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham will construct a child-care facility. More than 60 percent of the students at the college are women, and 85 percent of those students are single mothers with at least one child. The new child care facility is expected to have a positive impact on student recruitment and retention.

The colleges were selected for funding in the current fiscal year, and the funds are contingent on the grantees meeting the grant requirements. A complete list of the grantees is available online.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

SOURCE: USDA news release.