December Career Fair

Meet over a dozen local employers at Takoda’s December Career Fair
Friday, December 14th 12:00 PM–3:00 PM

Connecting with local employers is as easy as walking in and introducing yourself. You’ll get a chance to stand out as more than just a piece of paper at this in-person hiring event.

No registration necessary.


Located at the Takoda Institute:

1845 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis MN 55404

Support Life-Changing Work at AIOIC

Greetings, my relatives!

Each day I am reminded of the honor held within my work at the American Indian OIC and each day I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community.

It can become so easy to find one’s self ensnared in the negativity that seems to permeate our world – reinforced by social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Whether it be violent crime, our country’s income inequality, warring political factions, or antiquated systems that are now find themselves breaking down…it becomes a challenge to not feel insignificant, helpless, or hopeless in a world that has all the appearances of spinning out further into the darkness.

However, through our work at the American Indian OIC, and the myriad of success stories that continue to emerge from our high school, GED program, post-secondary school, and employment services department, I am reminded daily of the good found in the hearts of our people, and exemplified by the efforts of our incredible staff. This goodness is plentiful, self-perpetuating, and more powerful than anything found in the headlines. The success of our clients is the success of the organization as a whole, and through the continued achievement of such successes, we are provided with irrefutable evidence that hope remains strong, and the light of the world is born from the countenances of our people.

One student who inspired many of us at the American Indian OIC is a single mother from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe named Breanne. Breanne struggled to get promoted and attain a higher wage because she didn’t have her high school diploma. After trying other traditional GED programs, Breanne enrolled in Takoda GED. In just 5 months, Breanne had passed the GED test and was able to get a promotion with higher pay and benefits. Now, Breanne is enrolled in Takoda Institute’s Patient Services Specialist program and will attain an accredited post-secondary certification.

I am incredibly proud of what the American Indian OIC repeatedly is able to accomplish. As you can imagine, for me, it is not hard to see how hope prevails and how it will continue to prevail so long as the American Indian OIC continues forward.

Today I invite you to become a part of the same energy that inspires our work by making a financial contribution to the American Indian OIC. The success of this agency is only possible because of generous people like you. With your contribution, we are able to provide over 1,300 individuals with education and employment programming each year. This work results in richer and more fulfilling lives for those who rely on us and strengthens our community as a whole. With your help, we can transform lives, enact change, and create hope. Please give.

Pilamaya yelo and Miigwetch!


Joe Hobot, Ed.D

President and CEO

Native Voters Meet Hennepin County Candidates

With support from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, AIOIC helped bring together candidates and Native voters for a unique evening of discussion.

Voter engagement has been a long-standing issue for the Native community, with Native voter suppression in North Dakota becoming a headline story. Previous candidates have spent little time listening to the concerns of Minneapolis’s urban Indian community, and it’s a rare occasion when voters are able to speak one-on-one with candidates to voice their concerns.

With support from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, American Indian OIC, and Little Earth Residents Association decided to host an Urban Indian Community Forum, which allowed candidates to meet Native voters and address the community’s most pressing concerns.

This unique opportunity brought together voters and Hennepin County candidates in the same room for an evening of discussion. Guests enjoyed a meal and discussed the issues that were most important to them. Each candidate had the opportunity to address the audience and discuss their goals for the community, and then sat down with guests to speak one-on-one.

Candidates in attendance were Senator Tina Smith (D – US Senate), Karin Housley (R – US Senate), Peggy Flanagan (D – MN Governor & Lt. Governor), Peter McLaughlin (Hennepin County Commissioner’s Office), Angela Conley (Hennepin County Commissioner’s Office), Ilhan Omar (D – US Congress – MN 5th District), Jen Zielinski (R – US Congress – MN 5th District), Kirsten Johnson (R – MN State Representative), and Aisha Gomez (D – MN State Representative).

Over 150 guests attended the Community Forum event. Each guest was given information about how to register to vote, where their polling place was, and the impact that their vote has on their community and greater Minnesota.

Thank you to the National Urban Indian Family Coalition for supporting American Indian OIC’s voter engagement efforts. Without their generous contribution, this event would not have been possible.


Ivy Estenson, Development Director

In the Face of Fear – Winter’s Story

Winter found stability, support, and hope after enrolling at Takoda Works

Winter* is a single mother of two young children fighting hard to have a better life. She is a woman looking to do better, be better, have more. She is a recipient of welfare trying to become self-sufficient. Even while her circumstances remain difficult, this new season is bringing hope into her life.

Since coming to Minnesota, Winter has been working with Takoda Works, and enrolled in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and the Diversionary Work Program (DWP). Winter has attended all the offered workshops and job fairs, receiving counseling and guidance. It was difficult for her to navigate the Twin Cities, but every day she would use public transit and make her necessary appointments. What she found was that securing employment wasn’t easy; however, being solely responsible for her two children would require that she get a job fast. Winter decided to get a job as a Patient Care Assistant which was only part-time and paid $11.00 per hour. Although this was a step in the right direction, Winter never stopped wanting better for her and her family.

In August of this year I started working with Winter and by September she applied for and secured a temporary position with Award Staffing. This position is full-time and pays $12.00 per hour with option for overtime. She takes two buses just to get to the worksite during the week and three on the weekends. Winter never complains, and she is always on time for work. This job has allowed her to believe that she can have more, do more, and achieve better. This step up has fueled her with hope and strength to keep going.

Yes, she is a little bit broken and still scared, but she has a lot of fight in her. She might need a reminder that it’s possible to do hard things as a mom, an employee, and a dreamer. She might need to know it’s possible to stand up when she feels like sitting down, to show up when she wants to disappear, to swing for the fences when she feels like she’s doomed to strike out. On her journey to self-sufficiency I will continue empowering and encouraging her… greater is coming for Winter and her children.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our participants.


Latisha Porter, MFIP Manager

GED Opens Up Countless Opportunities for Breanne

With help from Takoda GED tutors, Breanne attained her GED and a higher paying job with benefits.

Breanne, a member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, came to Takoda GED with the goal of a better life for her and her daughter. Prior to earning her GED, Breanne found herself caught in a cycle of working minimum wage jobs, where she was unable to earn promotions without a high school diploma. “Whenever a promotion came about, they asked for my diploma,” she said in an interview. “I was tired of people telling me I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have a piece of paper.”

Breanne decided to enroll at Takoda GED because of the small classroom environment and one-on-one attention from tutors. “The structure of Takoda GED was more compatible with my learning style,” says Breanne. “I struggled with English and social studies, but was good at math and science. The tutors customize your learning to what you need. The one-on-one attention and individualized learning helped me to succeed.”

In just 5 months, Breanne earned her GED. For her and many others at Takoda, earning her GED proved to be much more than a piece of paper. Through tutoring, practice tests, and support from her teachers, Breanne finally achieved what she had been trying for so long to do. Earning her GED opened up opportunities that Breanne never experienced before. “I was hired in an office job, earning more, and got a pension plan and 401k.”

Breanne’s advice to students trying to earn their GED is, “go to class and do it. It seems scary, I know the feeling, but just do it. When they tell you the things you have to work on after your practice test, review those things and you can do it. If everyone is telling you that you can’t, prove them wrong!”


Lindsey Windfeldt

Ivy Estenson, Development Coordinator

Daily Reading Challenge Improves Lexile Scores

Takoda Prep students start each day by taking time to read, showing an increase in their Lexile scores.

For over two school years, students and faculty at Takoda Prep have taken part in a school-wide initiative called Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.). This program was initially put in place to boost students’ interest in reading, but it has grown to so much more.

At first, students could choose any book they desired to read once per week during a class wide D.E.A.R. session. Students chose poetry, graphic novels, traditional narratives, and everything in between. Fast forward to present day, and D.E.A.R. takes place in a daily credit earning class each morning. It’s a wonderfully calm way to start our day. Students now choose books based on their Lexile number. We find the students’ Lexile numbers by using a helpful program called Renaissance Learning. A short assessment, which we take monthly to progress monitor students, gives us an opportunity to learn more about students’ reading abilities using a research based system. If the students’ Lexile score improves, they earn a reward. This has greatly motivated students to read as often as possible and perform well on the assessment. D.E.A.R. and Renaissance Learning have greatly improved our ability to understand student literacy concerns, build confidence and interest in reading, as well as promote the importance of reading in life.

So far this year, Takoda Prep students have spent 108 hours reading in school. The two students with the most reading—Melena in 11th grade, and Alejandra in 9th grade—have read 11.68 hours and 9.25 hours, respectively. Our student with the highest Lexile score is Santino, 12th grade, with an 1815L. That’s a college level reader!

So far, 64% of students who have tested at least twice have shown improvement in their Lexile scores, and we look forward to seeing our students’ interest in reading continue to grow.


Christy Hicks, Instructor at Takoda Prep

Graduation at Takoda Institute

Takoda graduates shared their stories of resiliency during the Fall graduation ceremony

Twice a year, graduates of Takoda Institute and Takoda GED are invited to attend a graduation ceremony to celebrate their incredible achievement. This is not your average graduation ceremony. In lieu of rambling speeches, musical arrangements, and long processionals, the focus is instead put on each individual graduate and their immense accomplishment.

On Friday, October 25, graduates, their families, faculty and staff gathered to see students at Takoda accept their certificate. The director, registrar, and instructors had the opportunity to address the graduates, personally recognizing each student and providing advice and encouragement for their next chapter. Each student was presented with their certificate and had a moment to be recognized in front of the audience.

What makes graduation at Takoda truly unique is the opportunity for the students to give a speech in front of the audience. For many, this can be a daunting task, but students are encouraged to take this opportunity to share their story and thank those who supported them. It began in a trickle, with one brave soul offering to be the first to speak. Eventually, more and more students gained the courage to give a speech until nearly everybody had addressed the crowd. It’s during this portion of the ceremony where we get to learn about each graduates’ story.

Among the graduates, there was a single mother of 7 children, who graduated from the Patient Services Specialist program all while working and taking care of her family.

There were several immigrant students who overcame struggles to achieve a better life.

There were also several graduates who could not attend the ceremony because they had already accepted jobs in their field of study. While their absence was noticed, it’s rewarding to know their hard work has already paid off.

As a testament to the instructors and courses they teach, two students from the Computer Support Specialist program took it upon themselves to donate IT equipment to help future students learn.

This fall’s graduation was another great reminder of the importance of the education, career training, and job placement services provided at Takoda.


Ivy Estenson, Development Coordinator