TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced today the Cherokee Nation is dedicating more than $7 million in funding to increase career training and employment opportunities for Cherokees seeking relief through COVID-19.
The funding is part of the Cherokee Nation’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,” Chief Hoskin said. “In the midst of the worst public health crisis in generations, job security and placement can be a challenge for many.”
More than half a million dollars will extend the tribe’s summer youth employment program through December, since 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 tribal training program formally known as “day work” will also get a $400,000 increase in funding to help provide more tribal citizens with day training opportunities. Participants of the program receive a same-day payment card to help with emergency necessities such as gasoline, groceries and utility bills.
Another $1 million will boost the tribe’s work experience program. Citizens receive on-the-job training aimed at helping them transition from unemployment to employment with Cherokee Nation, its entities or outside employers.
The tribe is also investing $1 million in a tuition assistance program for tribal citizens interested in training at a career tech center. The assistance is available in a number of career fields, including many 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 Cherokee 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.
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 Cherokee citizens have the assistance and job training resources available to them during the pandemic.
“All of this is on top of the historic investment Deputy Chief Warner, the Council and I made by enacting the Career Readiness Act before the pandemic hit. Those funds are also still available to help our citizens,” Chief Hoskin added.
Career Services programs are limited to Cherokees living within the tribe’s reservation. Other eligibility requirements may apply.
For more information contact the nearest Cherokee Nation Career Services office or call 918-453-5555.