Nonprofit to Offer Affordable Computer Literacy Training to Native Americans

Published July 3, 2017

Special to Native News Online

Today, it would be easy to assume that everyone either has a computer or knows how to operate one. Computers allow access to the unlimited information that is available on the Internet. But accessing the Internet and understanding how to tap into the full potential of a computer are two completely different things. Sadly, there are too many people today that cannot operate a computer outside of playing games or using social applications like Facebook or Twitter. No segment of society is immune from this shortcoming.

The vocational world of today demands computer literacy of its citizens, making it almost impossible for them to succeed in today’s society without it. Even most job applications are done over the Internet. Higher paying jobs require significant knowledge of the computer and its functions. Too many people settle for dead-end or low-paying jobs because this training is beyond their financial means.

The good news is that anyone can learn to operate a computer. The Sage Hawk Foundation believes that the combination of ambition and knowledge has the potential of ending the vicious cycle of poverty, no matter what the cause. Although this is a concern in all segments of society, nowhere is poverty more prevalent than among our tribal citizens.  The Sage Hawk mission is about individual application and empowerment and exists to serve our tribal communities.

While training programs have always existed, they are not always within financial reach of those who struggle with hardships and poverty. In addition to financial roadblocks, there are other obstacles to gaining computer literacy, like fear of the unknown. Many people are either afraid to try, or are uncertain about how to address computer literacy education.  Sage Hawk offers a means of conquering this dilemma.

The Sage Hawk Foundation’s mission is to offer three, 2 month long classes. The entire six month course will be open to any tribal member willing to attend basic, intermediate and advanced computer training classes which will be taught by industrially-certified instructors.  For students who live at or below the federally-recognized poverty line, the training will be completely free of charge. For incoming students with levels of income that sit at different levels above the poverty line, fees will be pro-rated at a substantially discounted rate according to their level of income.

Best of all, there are no pre-existing conditions that would prevent a student from being accepted into Sage Hawk’s training course.  It does not matter if the applicant has a (non-violent) criminal record, dropped out of school, has bad credit, or is homeless.  It even isn’t necessary to have any working knowledge of the computer at all.  Sage Hawk exists to serve these demographics, regardless of age. There are no pre-qualifying tests to take.  All that is needed to begin is basic reading and writing skills and a desire to learn and improve.  However, the student will have to demonstrate a desire to succeed by observing attendance, behavior and grading guidelines used by most public school systems.

Sage Hawk will offer several incentive packages for the successful graduate.  These will include scholarships to attend a junior college of their choice, a G.E.D. scholarship, or computer-related prizes that will allow the graduate to continue their computer studies at home.  Additionally, job placement services are being considered for successful Sage Hawk Foundation graduates, as well as public recognition by tribal leadership.

The Sage Hawk Foundation, Inc. was incorporated in October 2016 under Federal Tax Identification Number 81-4332133.  Pawhuska’s Osage Nation will be the test bed for the Sage Hawk mission. If successful, Sage Hawk will introduce this program to all tribal communities wherever they exist in the United States.  Contingent on fundraising success, Sage Hawk anticipates the first classroom to be established by the summer of 2018 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Jeffrey Gilchrist

Executive Director, Sage Hawk Foundation, Inc.

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