We have determined a plan of action for our economic development efforts here on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
Summary of Project
Basic job skills and financial literacy are limited with youth and young adults in the White Swan community. Many youth do not graduate from high school. Even if they do graduate, they are often not prepared for college. They have limited examples of working, career minded adults. Many lack the character skills to take advantage of employment opportunities. We seek to help build character skills in the youth of White Swan to make future employees.
We are starting a silk-screening business with the purpose of teaching youth and young adults vocational skills by running an actual small business. We will combine this small business training with WorkLife (learn more about this class here) and Financial Literacy curricula to provide additional job skill training in a classroom setting. Youth involved in the program can either stay in the program to work in the business or move on to other business opportunities.
There is economic research done by Nobel prize winning economist James Heckman, that shows character skills (emotional stability, agreeableness, extra-version, conscientiousness, and openness) predict a wide range of life outcomes, including educational achievement, labor market outcomes, health, and criminality. The predictive power of character skills rivals that of measures of cognitive ability (IQ). Sacred Road currently has limited ability to help with cognitive and education levels, however we can be involved in helping individuals learn character skills.
We seek to combine actual vocational training through the operation of a small business with job skill training of the WorkLife curriculum. This serves to replicate a more traditional apprenticeship program.
We also foresee the youth involved in the marketing and selling portion of the business, and learning communication and presentation skills. They will also have opportunities for janitorial and other more basic skills.
The WorkLife curriculum provides basic job skills information that is significantly needed. This curriculum is written from a Christian perspective and provides the following skills: the need to arrive at work on time and consistently, resume preparation, job interviewing skills, conflict management skills, and the need for adapting to a workplace environment, among others. We will also add a financial literacy component once the WorkLife class is completed.
Providing youth with character skill training while showing them they can learn new skills and succeed will help provide a foundation in which future employment opportunities can be built.
I'll keep you updated on the progress of this program as we move forward. Let me know if you have any questions or might be interested in helping out in some way.