Cherokee Nation announces $7M for career training, employment opportunities

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/21/2020 12:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Adrianne Bark takes an online practice test for a billing and coding course at Northeast Tech in Kansas, Oklahoma. Bark participated in the CN Career Services short-term training program, which paid for her courses, books and testing fees. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on July 18 announced that the Cherokee Nation is dedicating more than $7 million in funding to increase career training and employment opportunities for CN citizens seeking relief through COVID-19. 

According to a press release, the funding is part of the CN’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending relief plan. 

“We’re committing more than $7 million to our Career Services Department to keep our existing programs at full strength and expand and create new programs to help our citizens who have been economically impacted by COVID-19,” Hoskin said. “In the midst of the worst public health crisis in generations, job security and placement can be a challenge for many.” 

According to the release, more than half a million dollars will extend the tribe’s Summer Youth Employment Program through December because many teens were unable to work summer months due to COVID-19. With the program extension, high school and college students will have the opportunity to earn income while in school, the release states.

It also states that the tribal training program formally known as “Day Work” will get a $400,000 increase in funding to help provide more tribal citizens with day training opportunities. Participants receive a same-day payment card to help with emergency necessities such as gasoline, groceries and utility bills, the release states.

Another $1 million will boost the tribe’s work experience program, according to the release. Citizens receive on-the-job training aimed at helping them transition from unemployment to employment with the CN, its entities or outside employers. 

The release also states that the tribe is investing $1 million in a tuition assistance program for tribal citizens interested in training at a career tech center. The assistance is available in various career fields, including programs that can be completed by the end of the year. This includes career fields in health care, construction, truck driving, welding and others. 

The program will help CN citizens such as Adrianne Bark, 46, of Pryor who just finished a short-term training program through Career Services that allowed her to get a certification in health care billing and coding at Northeast Tech in Kansas. Bark had her courses, books and test fees fully paid for.     

“With the Cherokee Nation’s help, I could concentrate on my studies instead of wondering how I was going to pay a loan back,” said Bark. “I also felt obligated in a way to try harder because someone else could have used the money instead of me, so I studied really hard. It just put my mind at ease to have it paid for.”   

Bark plans to continue her education in billing and coding to achieve an additional certification this fall under the relief plan. 

In addition to strengthening current programs, the tribe is creating a half-million-dollar career ladder program in areas of telemedicine and health IT to help fill in-demand health positions, the release states. It also states another $50,000 will be used to expand GED programs to offer online courses that will assist tribal citizens in obtaining a high school diploma. 

A technology grant will also be available to help many of the career trade clients with technology needs. All remaining funds will ensure CN citizens have the assistance and job training resources available to them during the pandemic, according to the release. 

“All of this is on top of the historic investment Deputy Chief (Brian) Warner, the (Tribal) Council and I made by enacting the Career Readiness Act before the pandemic hit. Those funds are also still available to help our citizens,” Hoskin said. 

Career Services programs are limited to CN citizens living within the tribe’s jurisdiction. Other eligibility requirements may apply. 

For information, contact the nearest CN Career Services office or call 918-453-5555.

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