NACC receives donation, funds help programming

Natalie Weiland

Colorado State University’s Native American Cultural Center received a financial donation from the John and Sophie Ottens Foundation. 

The donation totals $700,000 and will be used to support a myriad of operations within the NACC such as leadership development and student tutoring.


“It’s a gift that’s designed to last us 10 plus years,” said Ty Smith, director of the NACC. “It runs our retention programming, our peer-mentoring program, tutoring program. … Also, we’re able to pay student employees. That funding we receive from the Ottens Foundation really goes a long way for our office.”

“We’re so thankful to this foundation for all the support that they’ve provided. It’s really been impactful for us.” -Ty Smith, director of the NACC

The Ottens Foundation has a history of supporting Colorado State University and helping NACC programming since 2007, according to SOURCE. Additionally, in July, the foundation has made donations to other programs and universities, including Fort Lewis College.

Founded in 1998, the group has provided funding to the NACC annually, and their financial support extends to various other causes that focus on higher education, according to SOURCE.

For the NACC, the impact of this donation cannot be understated.

“It just impacts us in so many ways,” Smith said. “We, in turn, utilize that funding to really focus on impacting Native communities and supporting not only Native students but all CSU students.” 

For students like Nizhoni Hatch, the donation ensures that the NACC can continue to support the needs of the CSU community. 

Hatch has been employed by the NACC since spring of last year, first as a receptionist and later as a tutor in their office in the Lory Student Center. 

“I am incredibly grateful to feel belonging and purpose in my work, which supports me culturally and academically,” Hatch wrote in an email to The Collegian.

Hatch explained that she is able to represent her culture in science and use her education to empower Native women.

“The impact of the donation extends beyond the University and truly empowers Native culture in all aspects,” Hatch wrote. “In the future, I am so excited to see the NACC empower Native students in higher education and advocate for education in Native communities.”


Over the years, the Native American Cultural Center has been consistent in their support of the CSU community through tutoring, education, employment and cultural events, a legacy they plan to continue with the help of the Ottens Foundation, according to Smith.

Throughout November, the NACC plans to celebrate Native American Heritage Month through various civic engagement and keynote speaker events and continues to serve as a place for all CSU students to receive support and feel a sense of belonging.

“We really are like a ‘home away from home’ for a lot of students,” Smith said. “We’re so thankful to this foundation for all the support that they’ve provided. It’s really been impactful for us.”

Natalie Weiland can be reached at or on Twitter @natgweiland