WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $350,000 to three Bemidji area tribal colleges for infrastructure improvements.

“These rural development investments for Red Lake Nation College, White Earth Nation College, and Leech Lake Tribal College will help students gain access to the best possible options to advance their education,” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said in a release. “Minnesotans have a long tradition of honoring our tribal communities, yet we still have work to do to create an environment in which tribal culture can continue to flourish, hand-in-hand with new opportunities and economic growth.”

The Red Lake Nation College grant will be used to purchase snow plow equipment and computers, the release said. It will also help install Braille compatible door signs and materials for sight impaired individuals.

White Earth Tribal and Community College will use its funding to purchase equipment for two learning facilities, including the Biminizha'an Gibawaajigan Building (Traditional Native Arts classroom). It will also help replace outdated computers, tables and chairs and install interactive display boards, the release said.

The Leech Lake Tribal College grant will be used to purchase new technology, library and security equipment.

“I am incredibly happy that the USDA has decided to make this significant investment in the Leech Lake Tribal College, said U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn. “This educational institution plays a vital role in the Leech Lake community, so I look forward to seeing the money help build state-of-the-art facilities to prepare native students for the workforce as well as help preserve the Anishinaabe language, culture, and traditions.”

Funding is provided by the USDA Tribal College Initiative Grants Program.