BISMARCK — Two women from North Dakota were awarded Bush Foundation fellowships to help further their leadership and community outreach goals.

Courtney Schaff of Fargo and Jodi Rave Spotted Bear of Twin Buttes received Bush fellowships, which provide each of them with up to $100,000 to aid their leadership efforts and create change in their communities.

The Bush Foundation in St. Paul selected 24 people from Minnesota and the Dakotas as recipients for the 2021 fellowships.

Schaff is an organizer with North Dakota United, an educators and public employees union with about 11,500 members. The Bush Foundation said Schaff hopes to shift the North Dakota Legislature to a governing body that's more representative of all people in the state.

She will advocate for more education about public policy and anti-racism practices.

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"(Schaff) wants to build a more equitable North Dakota by encouraging people to use their collective power to influence policy," the Bush Foundation said in a statement.

Spotted Bear, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is an advocate for the freedom of the press in Indian Country. She founded the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance, where she seeks tribal government accountability and aims to elevate peoples' voices.

Spotted Bear was the first Native American woman to be awarded a Harvard University Nieman Fellowship, which helps journalists grow their professional and leadership skills.

"She believes deeply in the freedom of the press in Indian Country to reflect the needs and voices of the people," the Bush Foundation said in its statement.

Past recipients of the Bush Fellowship include former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm and Jodi Archambault, former special assistant for Native American affairs to President Barack Obama.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at