Economic Development Program

Programs and Services

Economic Development Program


Supporting Undergraduate Native Students

The Economic Development Program provides information and referral services to the state-recognized tribes and organizations, American Indian citizens and organizations interested in economic development enterprises and business start-up or expansion.

With the recent economic recession, we witnessed company closures, major state budget cuts to social programs and for the first time in history, cuts to education. As a result universities and community colleges increased already high tuition rates and fees, enlarged class sizes and eliminated programs/majors previously offered. American Indian students already struggling with rising costs and diminishing financial aid have been forced to abandon their dreams of a college education. They simply cannot afford to pay the costs. Education has long been a predictor of economic prosperity yet it is becoming increasingly inaccessible for American Indian students as they fall farther behind and are economically disadvantaged. Seeing this need, we created the Supporting Undergraduate Native Students (SUNS) Program. This program is funded by a small grant received from the NCDHHS/Office of Economic Opportunity, Community Services Block Grant.


The Supporting Undergraduate Native Students (SUNS) Program is a college educational access and retention program sponsored by the NC Commission of Indian Affairs, Economic Development Program.

The purpose of the SUNS program is to identify qualified American Indian students enrolled full-time in an accredited North Carolina community college or university and assist them in the pursuit of their educational goals. Students must meet 100% federal poverty income guidelines to be eligible to participate in the SUNS Program.


The SUNS Program is designed to provide financial assistance to income eligible American Indian students during the fall and spring semesters only. We assist approximately 50 students each year in pursuit of their educational goals.

Book Voucher Reimbursement & Semester Completion Incentive Payments

Financial assistance consists of a book voucher reimbursement payment for the fall and spring semesters. In addition, students will receive a semester completion incentive payment for each successfully completed semester. Book voucher reimbursements will be up to $500.00 per semester, and the semester completion incentive payments will be up to $120.00 per semester. Academic Excellence Incentive Payments

Academic Excellence Incentive payments will be presented to the student/students with the highest overall grade point average. Students must comply with all SUNS Program Guidelines in order to be eligible to receive this incentive. Amounts vary depending on the number of students eligible and the amount of funding received

Graduation Incentive Bonus Payment

A Graduation Incentive Bonus payment will be provided to all seniors who successfully graduate with a 2.0 or higher overall grade point average. Amounts will vary depending on the number of students eligible

Supportive Services

We have limited funds available to assist eligible SUNS Program participants with a one-time financial assistance payment for unexpected expenses such as emergency childcare, car repair, or other needed services, so they may remain enrolled in a college or university.

Annual Academic Success Workshops

The SUNS Program sponsors two Academic Success Workshops annually. These required one-day workshops provide SUNS Program participants with an opportunity to learn about a variety of topics from special guest speakers. Students have the opportunity to network with other native students from across the state in a casual business atmosphere while learning the skills necessary to be successful.

For additional information about the program and eligibility, please contact Program Director Kimberly Hammonds at 984-236-0163 or

The SUNS Program is contingent upon availability of program funds. Benefit amounts will vary depending on the number of students eligible and the amount of funding received.

Terms and conditions subject to change without notice