The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR or Graton Rancheria) announced they are contributing a $2,850,000 grant to Sonoma State University to revitalize the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Monies from the grant will be used to expand outdoor educational space, increase facility capacity, and provide for ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance and accessibility. The facility will also be renamed the “Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Learning Center at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve” and provide the public with information about the Tribe’s longstanding presence in the Sonoma region.
“We’re very proud of this opportunity to support the Preserve’s many environmentally focused educational programs for years to come,” said Graton Rancheria Tribal Chairman, Greg Sarris. “One of our main goals is to maximize outdoor learning spaces and strengthen the sense of the surrounding environment, which includes the tribal history and connection with the land.”
The Tribe has already donated $833,500 toward the goal of $2,850,000, with the remainder to be paid by the end of 2020 as the project progresses.
“These improvements will enable the growth of programs that enhance connections to nature and encourage the discovery of new solutions for challenges facing the earth,” said SSU President Judy K. Sakaki. “This is a tremendous gift to the university, and we applaud Dr. Greg Sarris, Tribal Chair, and the Tribal Council for their generosity and stewardship of the land.”
This is not FIGR’s first gift to Sonoma State University: the tribe also donated $550,565 to the University’s “Summer Bridge” Program in June 2018 and June 2019. Summer Bridge provides extended academic and social orientation to hundreds of freshmen who are the first in their families to attend college. This grant allowed Sonoma State to serve more students and also extend the program from six to 11 days. A new academic component was implemented, aimed at preparing students for college-level coursework. One of the primary goals of Summer Bridge is to increase student retention rates and academic success, while also recruiting and supporting more tribal students.