MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A new summer camp at the University of Minnesota is aiming to bridge the college attendance gap for Native American high school students in the state.

The camp is hosted by the University's American's Indian Studies department with the purpose of helping students to explore opportunities at the university, the Minnesota Daily reported.

"It's. important for (the students) to be able to view college through... an Indigenous lens — and that's the whole purpose of this (program)," said Summer Lara, a youth mentor for the program and University senior.

The 13 students enrolled in the program are staying in Territorial Hall and taking classes in American Indian literature and either Dakota or Ojibwe language. They're also learning how to navigate the university.

Enrollees have visited the Raptor Center, canoed on Lake Nokomis, visited the university's STEM labs and taken a tour of sacred Dakota sites around the Twin Cities.

Fawn Grauman-White is the community engagement coordinator for AIS. She said she hopes the program will help students realize the resources and connections available to them.

"In the American Indian community in the greater Minnesota area... the (University) seems a little bit unattainable for most, so we want to make it as community-based as possible," Grauman-White said.

David Chang, AIS department chair, said that the department hosts various community-based programming events, but that this is the department's first youth-oriented project. The department is planning to apply for grants in the future to support the program, which currently relies on internal funding.

"It's very important to us to serve Native communities in Minnesota — this is a really important way of reaching out to Native youth and potential future students," Chang said.

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Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/