OLC Receives $2.3 Million Welfare Grant

Feb 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-3: Distance Education, Tribal College News

Oglala Lakota College has received a $2.3 million Welfare to Work grant to help the hardest-to-employ welfare recipients acquire the skills, work experience, and resources they need to find and keep good jobs. The award was announced Nov. 20 by Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. The project, Wanna Wowasi on Wakanyeja (Work now for our Children), will serve the Lakota people by attempting to place enrollees into employment and providing support services such as GED tutoring, work training, and child care. It will incorporate Lakota values to emphasize the importance of employment for program participants for future generations of Lakota.

The college will set up a local employment agency, support entrepreneurial activities with loans and technical assistance, and provide telephone service. It will teach job skills on community service projects and provide counseling. . In addition, the project will work with employers to help them become more effective supervisors of Welfare to Work employees.

The Pine Ridge Reservation suffers from severe poverty and high unemployment. Potential workers cannot get jobs because they have no reliable cars and no public transportation, inadequate housing, and few telephones. The target group suffers from alcoholism, inadequate education, and low basic skill levels. The reservation is geographically isolated, with the nearest shopping 50 to 90 miles away. The college will work with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the South Dakota Department of Social Services, the South Dakota Department of Labor, and other reservation groups.

The South Dakota grant is part of $250 million distributed to 75 projects in 44 states to fund innovative strategies to provide the hardest-to-employ welfare recipients support and training to get jobs. The $250 million is part of $3 billion appropriated by Congress for welfare-to-work. Seventy-five percent, or $2.2 billion, is provided non-competitively by formula to states for job-training and support services.

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