Passion is the first word that comes to mind when you speak with Dan and Beth Whittemore, as their commitment to Native American students has become just that, a passion that has grown over the years from just a feeling of filling a need, to a dedication that has provided the opportunity for hundreds of students to fulfill their educational dreams.
Long supporters of higher education, the Whittemore’s recently established a $100,000 scholarship and program fund, designed for Native American students pursuing an education at a Maricopa Community College. The Eagle Feather Native American Endowment supports those underserved students who have a commitment to either obtaining post-secondary education or certifications, building their own business, or are engaged in entrepreneurial studies. Additional preference is given for students enrolled in or demonstrating active involvement in a tribal community.
This endowment has been a long time in the making. Dan, like many of his family members, was an accountant. He worked in private firms and taught, but eventually wound up at Denver University to pursue a law degree. A passion for law, accounting, and education led him to work as the Colorado state controller, then the controller of Chicago Public Schools, the finance vice president for the Colorado State Board of Colleges and Occupational Education, and eventually to Arizona where he served as Vice-Chancellor, Business Administration at the Maricopa Community Colleges. It was in Arizona where Dan and Beth immersed themselves in learning about the education of Native American communities, realizing that this was a significantly underrepresented minority group.
Fueling their passion was a commitment to learning more about this underserved population, leading Dan and Beth to visit more than 20 Native American tribes in Arizona. They even took classes at Scottsdale Community College focusing on Native history and Federal Indian Law. Beth also served on the Phoenix Indian Center Board of Directors and Dan studied Native American culture and personally became involved in Native American rights and has taught numerous classes on Legal Rights of Indians and Tribes.
“Their creation of the Eagle Feather Native American Endowment provides yet another opportunity to encourage support for underserved students and the Whittemore’s are passionate about watching this endowment grow,” said Brian Spicker, CEO and President of Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation. “They have partnered with the Johnson Scholarship Foundation to create a matching component which increases the potential of this endowment to $200,000 and are looking for other opportunities to expand their gift.”
“We have students that we’ve helped who have worked extremely hard and have brought it back to their community. In fact, one of our scholarship recipients is even a legislative clerk,” said Dan. “Beth and I are so proud to support these students and to see the efforts of our commitment come to fruition as they are realizing their dreams and goals.”
In addition to their support of Native American students Dan and Beth Whittemore also contribute to the Maricopa Community Colleges Retiree’s Association, Asian Pacific Islanders Association Scholarship and the Latino Scholarship Fund.