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Life Goes On at Takoda Institute—American Indian OIC During Covid-19

Takoda means “All Are Welcome” in Lakota Language

By Takoda Institute Staff

Life goes on at the American Indian OIC—Takoda Institute building and over the Internet. The spring term saw regular Takoda Institute class offerings in the Patient Services Specialist and Computer Support Specialist programs held entirely online with the students and staff working mainly from home and using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other online conferencing and learning tools. This was after the instructors took crash courses and the students prepared their devices. As many schools, we have permission from the Higher Ed. Office and our accrediting agency to temporarily conduct classes online.

Classes started on April 13 and are expected to wrap up at end of June, leaving July 6 as the likely starting date for the Summer Qtr. In that quarter, if conditions permit and regulators allow, we hope to offer limited on-site training at a safe distance in our computer rooms while continuing to offer the online alternative. The actual nature of that Qtr. will depend upon both the determination of the AIOIC and of the Governor’s decisions at that time. Looking further ahead, the MN Dept. of Health recently announced they will soon have a plan in place for Higher Ed. as it may look in the Fall of 2020. Their determinations will also shape our method of course delivery in the fall.

Instructor Lloyd Wittstock reported on the gains and losses of the online experience. “We all—teachers and students—have learned from it. Of course, there are differences between face-to-face, all in one place and at one time classes and what we now have. Students like the “lab” portion of the courses on their own. Some send their homework to me right away, while others work later in the day or even into the evening and then send results to me. Some have returned to previous part-time employment with at-home working capabilities as they also complete their education.
On the down side, for one, the total curriculum is hard to fit into the new format. It takes longer to share with each other during the live part of each online session. Second, some courses convert better than others. Keyboarding, for example, works well online because the course needs a lot of individual practice time, so during our online time, we explore various keyboarding software and ways I can sample their progress. Microsoft Office Intro. Class is more oriented to demonstrations and live discussion, and so leaves less class time for their practice, which then goes more into traditional extra homework hours.”

Takoda Institute

Overall Services go on at AIOIC
While Mpls. has been ordered to stay at home for our community’s safety, the team at Takoda/AIOIC is still hard at work to make classes and programs function at the new level of normalcy.

While classes are currently being offered online, other programs are also offering online or over-the-phone assistance. Takoda’s SNAP Outreach Specialist and Enrollment Specialist, Erin Wolf, says: “Anyone who may qualify for grocery assistance can apply online at any time. Clients are encouraged to call or email me with any questions they may have about eligibility or assistance they may need with the application process.” In-person visits to our building at 1845 E. Franklin are by appointment only and will include a temperature check at the entry. Face masks are encouraged.

Contact Erin: 612 341-3358 ext. 113 or erinw@takoda.org to register for long-term Takoda Institute programs, short-term training, or for SNAP services.

Or for youth programs, ShirleenMorseau at ext. 117 or Shirleenm@takoda.org. to set you up with Mpls. Youth Works, for ages 16-24, paid internships, paid work readiness training, paid drivers’ ed classes and more. She also handles Mpls. Works, for those 18 and over, offering employment support for work clothes and transportation.

She is also meeting with youth by appointment only, on Tues, Wed or Thurs.
Barbara Hydeen, Takoda Works Director, helps with: Clients needing a job search or make other use of the Career Resource Room computers, it will be by appointment only on Tues. Wed. and Thurs during hours of 10:00-2:00.
Social distancing: only allow five people in the room to use computers at one time. All appointments to use the room need to go through Angela Fabel who will make a weekly calendar of appointments and coordinate the room activity. Angela at angelaf@takoda.org.

Short-term programs are planning to start up in June. Jose Santos coordinates short-term hands-on training for warehouse workers, forklift and Bobcat drivers and compact excavator operators. Groups are already scheduled for late May and June, and participants are already enrolled. Those wishing to participate in such training in July or on into the fall should contact Erin Wolf.

Jose says that groups will be taught in separate smaller cohorts in different rooms, and sanitary precautions will be taken at the school and at the equipment training sites. He adds, “There are some changes we have made because of the COVID 19. For the months of May, June, July, and August we are not going to provide the Forklift, Boom Lift, and Scissor Lift trainings. HERC-U-Lift has decided that they are not going to provide trainings or let folks on their campus until the fall. They just want to be safe all around for their staff and participants. If all goes well, we can get back to our regular trainings in September.

As for our Warehouse Training Program, folks will still be able to earn five certificates in the following areas: OSHA 10 Certificate, Flagging Certificate, Bobcat Certificate, Compact Excavator Certificate, and Tool Cat Utility Vehicle Machine Certificate.”

More Changes to Follow
The Adult Basic Education and GED room is scheduled to open up for in-person class times starting June 1, and the hours our building is open, currently 9 am to 1 pm, for any visitors, may be expanded in June. Enrollment sessions for a range of programs may also start at that time. As of late May, by order of the Mayor of Mpls, all persons inside public buildings will be required to wear a face mask. For more and up-to-date information, check our website at takoda.org, or the following contact people:
• Food stamp application assistance: erinw@takoda.orgor 612 341-3358 ext. 113 (SNAP)
• Takoda Prep Distance Learning: christyi@takoda.org (That’s the high school)
• Adult Basic Education/GED: ness@takoda.org
• Takoda Institute Career Training: erinw@takoda.org
• Career Counseling/Job Search Support: barbarah@takoda.org
We look forward to serving you at Takoda, whenever and however that becomes possible.

Takoda—”All Are Welcome!”
“Takoda, previously known as the American Indian OIC, was founded in 1979 in response to the damaging education and employment disparities faced by Indigenous people within the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Since its foundation, the organization has grown a workforce of over 25,000 through its culturally-relevant education, training, and workforce programs. Each year, over 900 people, affiliated with tribal nations in the U.S. and Canada, utilize the OIC’s services. Though the OIC was originally founded to strictly serve Native Americans, it has since opened its services and programs to people of every race, creed, gender, age, ability, or sexual orientation. Hence the name “Takoda”, which is a Lakota word meaning ‘all are welcome.’” … “the alley” newspaper, April, 2020 page 1.

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