Joe Hobot made President and CEO of AIOIC

The American Indian OIC (AIOIC) is pleased to announce that Joe Hobot has assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer. As the new executive leader of the organization, Mr. Hobot’s principle focus is set on expanding the education and workforce development opportunities for American Indians and others that improve the economic power of families and reduce economic disparities. He has great energy for the mission of the organization and expects to continue to modernize the agency’s infrastructure, further build its program capacity to address the needs of the community, and to broaden the AIOIC’s overall reach throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Previous to this post, Mr. Hobot served as AIOIC’s Education Director with oversight of the agency’s contract alternative high school, Adult Basic Education/GED program, and Takoda Institute of Higher Education. In this role, he feels his greatest accomplishments were attaining a 50% increase in participation in the ABE/GED program, developing higher level entry level programs in the fields of IT and Public Relations, procurement of new accreditation for the institution, becoming one of just a few schools to reach compliance with Adequate Yearly Progress Measures as determined by “No Child Left Behind” legislation, and sustaining high graduation rates throughout AIOIC’s education programs.

Mr. Hobot states, “I believe in the inherent ability, capability, decency, and hope possessed by all people. When these passions are invoked, there is no limit to what a person can accomplish. Our job therefore – through the work of the American Indian OIC – is to reconnect people to that which they already possess. We are here to help people rediscover and further develop the talents and skill sets that they already hold. In so doing, the people who come to the American Indian OIC will quickly reawaken their personal drive to accomplish great things – not only for themselves, but for their families and communities as well.”

Mr. Hobot is a Lakota descendant of the Hunk Papa Band of the Standing Rock Nation. He holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of St. Thomas and is currently a doctoral student of education at Hamline University.

Your Future : Your GED

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
– Nelson Mandela

For many of our students within the AIOIC Takoda Institute ABE/GED Program, the primary obstacle that stood between them and their return to the classroom was fear. Fear that they have been removed from a classroom for to long. Fear that once they began their studies, they would quickly realize that they are not smart enough to finish. Fear that even after obtaining their GED, their education would not really serve them. The reality is that absolutely none of these things ever materialize or become true. They are nothing more than the passing ghosts of wild speculation – a raw panic that unsubstantiated fear always tends to generate. Fortunately, our staff working in the ABE/GED program has encountered these situations many times in the past, and is well versed in supporting new enrollees towards overcoming such distress.

Through the dedicated efforts employed at the AIOIC’s Takoda Institute ABE/GED Program, we successfully are able to provide a smooth transition for all new students – especially those who are returning back to the classroom after an extended absence. Part of the measures we utilize includes a progressive engagement of the student with their studies matched to their unique skill sets and academic levels; a generous scheduling model that allows each student to set their own schedule that best fits for them, and we provide a combination of collective class activities and individual tutorials to assist students in achieving their GED. When taken together, the Takoda Institute ABE/GED program has established itself as a unique and effective avenue that has empowered hundreds to earn the secondary education credential.

While it is understood that above all else, a person must possess – at a minimum – a High School diploma or a GED if they are to have a hope of securing a meaningful job, we must remember that education serves other purposes as well. There is more beyond employment to which a person’s ongoing academic development provides for. By furthering their education and personal knowledge base, a person who has elected to return to the role of student is enhancing their overall value to their families as well as to their communities – both of which are in need of the ongoing input and leadership from this student. This has never been truer than in today’s environment . . .

The world – whether we care to admit it or not – now exists in a perpetual state of acceleration – pushing everyone in it further and further, faster and faster. The evidence of this ever increasing current is all around us – from technological advancement to the immediacy of the impact that information now has on our lives.

Within six hours of the verdict, organized protests and vigils blossomed throughout the country in reaction to the lives of George Zimmerman and Treyvon Martin. Social Media exploded over the controversial cover of a Rolling Stone Magazine depicting the face of the surviving Boston Marathon terror suspect. Last summer, authorities in Western Wisconsin unfortunately had to call off an Amber Alert that was sent out via mobile phone networks and local television stations – due their sad discovery in the trunk of an automobile late one evening. Meanwhile, something called “ISIS” is currently storming across the deserts of Iraq and placing jeopardy young American soldiers stationed there – with more now on the way . . .

This is merely a sample of the punishing amount of information that is surging towards us right now, like rising flood waters that continue to grow each and every day.

Are you able and ready for this onslaught? Do you believe that you have the mental capabilities to navigate through this ever-challenging world of ours?

What do you think about separating the notion of killing from that of murder, and what do you believe are the limits of self-defense in this nation?

What do you think about the repercussions of putting an admitted domestic terrorist on the cover of a major publication? Do you think this is disrespectful to the victims?

What do you know about foreign policy? Are their members in your family currently serving in the armed forces? Could they now be in harm’s way as a result of “ISIS”?

Are your children safe? How do you know?

What do you think? How will you act or react? Have you considered all of the implications offered by this world and how it can impact your life? Will you be able to contend with these challenges on behalf of not only yourself, but on behalf of your family and community as well?

It precisely for these secondary reasons – reasons so often overlooked – that make the pursuit of one’s education so incredibly valuable. Yes, the credential is important, as is the need to procure gainful employment. However, so is the impact that the individual can have upon their families and community as a whole if they are equipped to handle the deluge of information that has been slowly building in depth around them.

By pursuing their education, the student has elected to take a new path of evaluating information, thinking about it deeply, and then creating their own opinions and actions drawn from what they have come to learn thus far. Such critical thinking skills and discernment of mind are the most powerful tools for any human to possess. Yet without them, it becomes ever so easy to find oneself merely swept away with the current.

It is for all of these reasons that we encourage all people to get engaged within our educational programs – not only as a means of remedying their financial status, but to empower each to contribute to the intellectual health of their families and their communities. As such, we call on everyone to join us in this journey . . .

Economic Disparities for People of Color

The American Indian OIC has long recognized the importance of education as a pre-requisite for embarking upon a career within the modern economy. Without training and a highly developed skill set, employment becomes nothing more than a mere job acquisition – which only serves as temporary alleviation of long-term economic distress. This is not a solution the people of our community are interested in nor can they advance in this environment. Instead, AIOIC supports a robust training and educational model that will empower candidates to be hired in positions in professional careers and that will allow themselves and their families to thrive within the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the current investment in “career training” for populations of poverty – which tend to be highly comprised of people of color – only allow quick, low-skilled options which lead to low skill, low wage jobs. According to the most recent Affirmative Action Data Packet (a joint research effort between MN DEED and the Minnesota Office of Human Rights that examines employment data along racial lines every five years) the greater Twin Cities region continues to exhibit a gulf between non-minority people and minority people in terms of securing long-term and innovative career pathways. The most recent report, covering the years between 2006 through 2010, indicates that the occupations with the largest minority populations remain low-level, low-wage types of employment. Pathways where the percentages between white people and minorities are relatively equal or comprised of a larger minority presence include: cooks; dishwashers; maids and housekeeping cleaners; baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges; telephone operators; and food processing workers. Although this individualized are employed and therefore considered contributing to the overall economy, the very nature of these appointments (low-level, low-wage positions) actually serves to prevent minority populations from advancing and from thriving. Because people in these positions often have to work longer hours in an attempt to compensate for the low rates of pay, minority populations continue to struggle to advance economically when compared to those working higher-level, higher-wage jobs (which are according to this data principally populated by white people). This combination of a lack of real, meaningful employment opportunities – coupled with a need to commit longer hours towards earning a sustainable wage – has swelled the ranks of the employed yet impoverished. In short, these people are the “working poor” of our state, and they are disproportionately represented by minority populations. We have serious concerns about the current economic disparities that still plague Minnesota’s minority populations – particularly among American Indians. AIOIC intends to host a series of World Café events that bring in American Indian service providers – as well as the indigenous community itself – to evaluate the efficacy of current education, training, and employment programs used by American Indians, and to further examine the causality of the pervasive joblessness and unemployment that persists among our people so that we may effectively direct our efforts going forward. Our first event will be held on August 14th with details on event to come soon.