Takoda Institute helps diverse students improve their lives

Get no-cost training in fields that are hiring

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Know someone in your life who deserves a shot at a brighter tomorrow? The Takoda Institute can help. Its no-cost education, career coaching, and training programs for adults have improved the lives of thousands of Twin Cities.
Today, the need is greater than ever.
Located on a rise of land at the southwest corner of Franklin and Cedar avenues, the Takoda Institute is the career pathways division of the American Indian OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) and has served the Twin Cities community for more than four decades.
Takoda Recruitment Coordinator Lyle H. Iron Mocassin grew up in the Longfellow neighborhood, where he attended Maria Sanford Junior High and Roosevelt Senior High schools. He said, “With everything that’s happening in the world – now is the time to start planning for a better future.”
So, what makes Takoda successful?
Its approach centers on individualized support. While it maintains strong roots in the Indigenous culture, its services are open to those of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The name Takoda means “all are welcome” in Dakota, and broad student demographics reflect that inclusivity.
 
Each student treated as an individual
Iron Moccasin, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, has been with the organization for two decades. He said, “About half of our students have had some kind of involvement with the criminal justice system, and most come to us from our recruitment and outreach efforts.”
Students credit Takoda’s smaller class size, scholarships, staff encouragement, and range of support services as key benefits. COVID-19 has complicated the delivery of those services and sent most of the trainings online, but there still is a high level of personal attention given to each student.
“We can’t get you out of bed in the morning, and we can’t get you to take a shower,” Iron Moccasin said, “but we can work with you on just about everything else.”

One person’s story
Amy chose Takoda because the courses were short and offered at no-cost, but it was the support from fellow students and staff that kept her coming back.
“I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish without the support I received,” she said. “I was a mother, going to school full time, and on public assistance – that made everything 10 times more difficult. We were together all the time here and just became family. The smaller class sizes helped a lot too because I was able to get one-on-one help from instructors.”
Amy was in a car accident the day before she was scheduled to take her state board exams to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. When she was able to take the exam some time later, her Takoda instructor met her at the Red Cross when the test was over. They waited together while her results were tabulated.
After earning her certification, Amy went on to work at the Native American Community Clinic and eventually was hired as an instructor at Takoda. She said, “I dedicated six months of my life to going to school, and it paid off.”

Winter session enrollment open
Enrollment is now open for the next round of classes, which begin Jan. 4.
The Medical Office Program is a three-month career education program that trains students for entry-level positions in healthcare administration. Upon graduation, students are prepared to work in patient registration, insurance verification, electronic health records and HIPAA certification.
The Computer Support Program lasts 18 weeks. Students learn to maintain operating systems and networks. Upon graduation, students are qualified for entry-level technology careers such as computer support specialist or help desk technician.
Dates for other 2021 training programs, such as construction equipment operation, project management, and customer service will be added soon.
The challenges of 2020 won’t disappear in January, but Takoda team members are optimistic about the impact their organization will continue to have in the New Year. “In 2021, we will continue to do what we’ve always done, which is providing career-focused skills in high-demand job areas,” Iron Moccasin said. “Right now, everything is in motion and people need jobs.”
The Takoda Institute is located at 1845 E. Franklin Ave. Information on training and services can be found at www.takoda.org.

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