KESHENA - At the College of Menominee Nation, many students like Sally Hill are going back to school.
“The job that I was passed over for, I didn't have the bachelor's education that was required. Even though I had that experience, that piece of paper kept me from getting that job,” said Hill.
The College of Menominee Nation President Verna Fowler says childhood poverty prevents many local Native American students from getting degrees.
“But there is a tremendous need. Education in this country has not served American Indians very well,” said Fowler.
The Menominee tribe says more than half of children within the tribe live in poverty. That's higher than the national average of roughly one-third.
President Obama announced a plan to address these challenges--the initiative is called Generation Indigenous. The plan includes a new federal grant program for career and college readiness initiatives.
"We have to invest in them and believe in them and love them and if we do, there is no question of the great things they could achieve, not just for their own families but for the United States,” Obama said to a national meeting of tribal leaders in Washington Wednesday.
Tribal educators locally say this is a step in the right direction. But, they want to know more details.
“I'm glad he has finally recognized the issue. But I've seen many programs come and go on reservations. But we really have to think about how to make this a sustainable program,” said Fowler.
Fowler hopes funding will make its way to Northern Wisconsin.
“It's only going to be education that's going to pull us out of this poverty that this community has been embedded in for hundreds of years,” said Fowler.
And students like Hill hope Generation Indigenous will get future generations thinking about college at a younger age.
Oneida tribal educators also tell FOX 11 they are eager to learn more about the Generation Indigenous programs.