Oglala Lakota College Opens Windows for YouthMay 15th, 2000 | By tcj | Category: 11-4: All Our Children Are Special, Tribal College News
The Oglala Sioux Tribe was recently awarded $4 million by the Department of Labor as part of a five year, $16 million project to develop systems and infrastructure to assist youth between 14 and 21 on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The tribe will help the young people to access education and employment.
Oglala Lakota College (OLC), through its Wowasi Un Wakanyeja Welfare to Work Program, was the catalyst in planning and preparing the proposal. Terry Albers, Director of the WUW program, said, “ This was truly a collaborative effort of the tribal college, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club, Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing, and the Oglala Nation Education Coalition. It shows what can be accomplished when we work together. Our incentive was our most precious natural resource, our youth.”
Yug’an Ojanjanglepi (YO) means “opening the windows” for youth opportunity. The program will serve at least 750 youth between the ages of 14-21 each year through a seamless system of enrollment, assessment, service strategies, personal planning, training, work experience, personal skills development, mentoring and follow-up. It will set up Boys & Girls Clubs for 14-18 year-olds and will set up Young Adult Societies for 19-21 year-olds in collaboration with the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing Drug Elimination Program. YO expects reservation-wide, psotive impacts on employment rates, high school completion rates, and college enrollment rates. Angie Eagle Bull of the Oglala Sioux Tribe NEW Program will be the overall coordinator.
The program features the Oglala Lakota College Youth Data Nexus, which will serve as an employment agency for youth and include support services, referral, educational counseling, a job and skills listing, and proactive job development with employers. OLC President Tom Shortbull, said, “Oglala Lakota College can be a catalyst for achieving the vision of tribal leaders in many areas. The Welfare to Work program is our biggest venture in this area and will help get people off welfare. Yu’gan Ojanjanglepi will carry this initiative further and keep our youth from going on welfare through access to education and employment. We may be the ‘ground zero’ of economic poverty in America but we have a tribal identity and cultural heritage that will enable us to overcome poverty.”
The YO strategy will rely on the core principles that underlie successful youth programs, including ensuring the participation of caring adults and guaranteeing long term follow-up to all youth participants. “We will build on strategies that the college has found to work on the reservation: utilize organizations that are already successful, integrate Lakota culture throughout the program, and bring the program to the people where they are,” Shortbull said.