“We know that what we have comes from a higher power than us and we feel real obligation to help other people"
Alan: You’re now in a different chapter of your life. It's never about the money- although we may think it is when we go through it, but where are you in life now and when when you're looking out into the future, what are some things that you're looking to accomplish?
Jay: All of my siblings and I, started out young following the example of our parents. We're a very religious family, and we believe in sharing what we have. We know that what we have come from a higher power than us, and feel real obligation to help other people. In the early seventies, my wife and I had seven children of our own, but there was a program called the Indian Placement Program where you would agree to take a Navajo child during the school year and have them live with you in your home and go to school. We agreed to do that and we got a young girl that had just barely turned 8 years old. She came back to our house every year for 9 years, and we learned a lot about the plight of the American Indian and why they're in the situation that they're in today. It was an easy transition to make in the early nineties when a friend called me and wanted to introduce another friend that he had. He brought a man over to my house by the name of Dale Tingey, who by the way is 92 years old and still comes to work every day. Dale was dedicated to helping the Native Americans. I got involved and before long I was on the Board of Directors and then after being gone for 3-4 years, I came back and almost 6 years ago I was asked to be the Director of American Indian Services.
What we do there is provide education opportunities for native american young people. When I first came aboard we were doing scholarships. I soon realized that because of drop out rates in the K-12 grades, that the kids that really needed help were in those years. We started concentrating on that as well and it's all grown. Six years ago we gave out about 1,500 scholarships, and last year we awarded 3,815 scholarships. We have reading programs in 20 schools and also this summer we had two STEM classes- we call them AIS prep. One of the was down in Blanding, Utah and the other one in Roosevelt, Utah. It's a pretty intense class. Its not a summer camp for the kids. It's teaching them STEM subjects and preparing them for college. This program was started in Texas 30 years ago with the hispanic kids in mind. It's a viable program. They make the claim that if you graduate, (the prep lasts for 3 summers, going from 7th to 9th grade), the track record is, if a child goes through all those years and passes, then 90% of them go onto college. I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood and our neighborhood kids don't succeed to that degree.
American Indian Services is a 501(c)(3), we raise money however we can-
Alan: Now do you have events on a regular basis? If a person wants to donate, how would they go about doing that?
Jay: We have a website, it's American Indian Services.com. They can find out all about what we're doing there. Every year we have a banquet in the summer. We had it three weeks ago and raised $608,000 net. We have a lot of supporters. Jonny Miller, the golfer has been a supporter for thirty years. We had a golf tournament, just a week and a half ago that he takes the lead in. He does that with 2-3 events a year. They bring in $125,000-$150,000. I like to do things that I like to do that still raise money for American Indian Services.
We have a lot of corporate donors too. We have donors that have given us $100,000-$200,000 a year for 5,6,7 years running and we're adding to it all the time. When you're in the philanthropy business you get money wherever you can, so that's what I spend my time doing now, trying to raise money because we can always spend a lot more than we raise. We're not like some of the other 501(c)(3)'s that you hear about, we bring about 96% of everything we raise to the bottom line. It takes us less than 5% of what we have to run our organization. Actually, truth be known, that 5% comes from 3 board members. So if you were to make a donation, with a very straight face, I could promise you that all of it would go towards our goal to help educate young native american kids, and try to follow them through life and help them be successful.