The WesternU/Pitzer College Native American Summer Pipeline to College program, which runs July 27-Aug. 10, 2014, received a $9,900 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The funding will cover the cost of hiring and training mentors, who will work with the pipeline students throughout their stay. The eight mentors – all college students – will receive cultural training as well as lessons in classroom management and leadership.

“We believe that it’s a big responsibility to have these young Native American scholars with us,” said Scott Scoggins, WesternU community outreach coordinator and director of the Native American Summer Pipeline to College program at Pitzer. “We’re bringing in elders to work individually with these mentors so they’re able to properly receive the students.”

The 19 Native American pipeline students, entering grades 9-11, will spend one week in the dormitories at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. and one week at Wishtoyo’s Chumash Discovery Village. They will learn about pollution and its effects on the immune system, anatomy and toxicology at WesternU.

The program is designed to motivate students to complete high school, promote leadership and strengthen their self-esteem and academic preparation for college, along with their connection to traditional knowledge and culture.

They will read the book “Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence” by Gregory Cajete and write reflective essays about their experiences.

“This book and their writing are going to help fuse all the cultural learning and traditions and teaching they’re receiving,” Scoggins said.

They will camp at Wishtoyo’s Chumash Discovery Village in Malibu and conduct marine biology experiments on Santa Cruz Island and in the water. They will count wildlife around the island while kayaking and snorkel around the California kelp beds to better understand that ecosystem.

Students will learn to use a nepohualtzintzin, a mathematical instrument similar to an abacus developed by the Aztecs.

“We are working with the Mexico City Department of Cultural Affairs, which is promoting this math system in schools in Mexico,” Scoggins said. “It’s helping students who are having trouble in math. We’re bringing in an elder mathematician from Mexico City. A big part of our theme is Native American science, where Native American tradition and western science meet and work together.”