Job training program will prepare American Indians and Alaska Natives living in Los Angeles for the workfoce. Photos by Pamela J. Peters
Published June 9, 2019
LOS ANGELES — On Thursday, United American Indian Involvement (UAII) unveiled its new Workforce Development and Training Department, to be overseen by new Director Rene Williams (Colville) that will assist American Indians/Alaskan Natives with access to a competitive job market and prepare them for long-term career success.
Recently awarded $1.6 million each year for the next three years, UAII will work to address the cycles of poverty that present obstacles to American Indians/ Alaskan Natives living in Los Angeles and Orange County as they work towards long term career success. LA County Board Supervisor Hilda Solis was in attendance and shared remarks about this tremendous achievement and express support from the County of Los Angeles. The event featured a prayer by Eddie Hummingbird (Cherokee) and honor song by Phil Hale (Dine’) both active members of the community to and the staff to provide the support needed for our communities transformation into seeking education, adequate jobs, a raised quality of life, and sharing in political advocacy efforts. The event also honored the work of Omerlene Thompson who started on the streets of skidrow 36 years ago, and who has helped provide emergency housing, services and support for the AI community in L.A.
A lot a enthusiam on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
UAII was established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 by Marian Zucco and Baba Cooper in 1974 to provide a place of shelter and food to those American Indians living on the streets of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. The City/ County of Los Angeles, including metro areas of Long Beach and Orange County, currently accounts for one of the largest populations of AI/AN’s in the United States with 188,853 as stated in the U.S. Census in 2015. A recent report by the California Consortium of Urban Indian Health (CCUIH) states that approximately 90% of AI/AN living in the state of California now reside in urban centers. Of UAII memberships over 95% are American Indian, of which 90% fall below the federal poverty level, while 80% only receive a H.S. diploma, G.E.D. or less, and represent a 2% higher unemployment rate than all other races.
“When I served as Secretary of Labor under President Obama, I had a chance to visit many Native American nations and communities, and see firsthand the multi-faceted needs that they faced—everything from inadequate housing to limited educational opportunities and lack ofworkforce training opportunities. For 45 years UAII has provided shelter, health care, food, mental health treatment, elder care, and youth leadership development,” commented L.A. County Board Supervisor, Hilda Solis, a former cabinet member of President Barack Obama as acting Secretary of Labor.
Expansion of UAII’s programs, through grants like the one awarded by the Department of Labor, are exactly what LA County’s Native American population needs to thrive. Workforce programs should focus on stabilizing individuals and families and preparing them for jobs and careers in industries that are projected grow, such as health care, renewable energy, construction, information technology, among others. These efforts require a deep level of collaboration among multiple stakeholders—educational partners, nonprofit sector, government and the business community.
“Job and career training must be compounded with stable housing solutions to ensure individuals and families are set up for success,: says LA County Board Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“We will continue to provide various services within our agency for the American Indians that impact the health of our community members. Not only will American Indians have a community they can go to within UAII, but also a place to share in hope,” says Jerimy Billy, Chief Executive Officer.