The John R. Winchester Endowment Fund was established in 1973 after the death of John R. Winchester, a generous man dedicated to the needs of American Indian students in higher education. John R. Winchester was employed at Michigan State University as a Coordinator in the North American Indian Affairs Office, Center for Urban Affairs. He devoted most of his career encouraging American Indian students to take advantage of higher education opportunities. Mr. Winchester recruited American Indian students from Michigan as well as other states, providing advising, tutoring, friendship and financial support. It was said that whenever he lectured on behalf of the student scholarship fund, he made sure that his lecture fees were given to the student organization, NAISO (North American Indian Student Organization).
It should be noted that this spirit of giving and supporting our American Indian students encouraged NAISO to donate all of the proceeds from the annual Michigan State University powwow to the Winchester Fund. They have done this since the very first powwow they organized over 30 years ago. As a result, while the Native American Institute awards funds and loans each year from the endowment, the heart of the endowment resides among the American Indian student community at MSU that John Winchester inspired, and continues to inspire, since his time here over 40 years ago.
Since 2001, when funds from the endowment became available to American Indian students in the form of both annual awards and short term loans, the Native American Institute has sought opportunities to further expand the amount of funding available through the Winchester Fund and worked to broaden the scope of the award. At this time, Michigan has 12 federally recognized tribes, the majority of which were re-recognized within just the past 30 years, and the American Indian student community at Michigan State University has broadened and diversified as a result. In addition to NAISO, MSU currently hosts three additional undergraduate student organizations directly supporting American Indian students: a chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Native American & Hispanic Business Students (NAHBS), and a chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS).
Please consider supporting our efforts to support our American Indian students as they continue to grow and advance throughout Michigan State University.