The unemployment rate for Native Americans in Pend Oreille County – which includes the Kalispel Reservation – is almost five times the state rate. Older workers are retiring fast, and young adults often lack the skills necessary to replace them. In addition, the housing shortage on the Kalispel Reservation is responsible for major overcrowding, with single homes housing multiple families.
Innovia Foundation awarded the Kalispel Tribe a $28,873 Community Strategies grant to help the Kalispel Career Training Center (KCTC) expand its training program for community members with barriers to employment. The 12-month Construction and Manufacturing Training program prepares young adults for entry-level positions in the workforce, combining classroom learning with hands-on experience in the paid, part-time Community Crew.
The program culminates with the construction of a small house, built as a training model, which will be gifted to a tribe member. The Community Strategies grant affords these building materials, as well as the cost of textbooks, curriculum updates and blueprints. The blueprints will be used for future construction projects to further relieve the housing crisis.
The paid vocational training offered by KCTC will qualify previously unemployed community members for long-term employment, boosting the local economy and helping to break the cycle of generational poverty. “Breaking this cycle gives hope to future generations and provides hope to the community,” says Colene Rubertt, Kalispel Tribe’s Director of Career Training & Mentoring.