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Federal Grant to Fund Vocational Program for Native Americans

A federal grant will allow the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to keep funding a disability jobs program for Native Americans.  The grant provides $1.3 million dollars a year for five years. 

Program Director Pat Lerch says the Vocational Rehabilitation for Native Americans program aims to help those with disabilities overcome obstacles and find work.

“But if it’s a physical disability, we can do an assessment to find out what kind of accommodation they might need. Same thing with a learning disability or they want to go back to school. They might need special software, or a special computer set up.”

Lerch says whether an individual is facing substance abuse issues, or is dealing with a lack of transportation…the program works with people on a case-by-case basis to find a solution. 

And she new this year is extra funding for a program targeted specifically at people who need to develop certain skills to get a job. 

“A lot of the people that we serve have very poor work histories or no work histories at all. And the reason is they’re just not used to the structure of having a job. Some of the people that apply for our program simply aren’t employable – they need to have skills training, hard skills, soft skills.”

The Place and Train program will receive $116,000 a year for three years. 

The Vocational Rehabilitation will receive $1.3 million each year for five years.  That program serves seven tribes in Wisconsin and one in Michigan, including Lac du Flambeau, the Forest County Potawatomi, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and Lac Vieux Desert. 

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