Cody Finds Success, Passion, and a Job

Cody enrolled in Takoda Works’ BUILD program and gained the skills to a meaningful career.

The BUILD program is an intensive work program to help Native youth build work and life skills. The first 7 weeks consisted of life skills training and work ethics. The participants were then placed into a 9-week internship in the community. 

 When Cody* was interviewed for the program, he discussed some of the struggles he had, such as dropping out of college and no significant work history. When staff informed Cody of an opportunity to get an internship, he told staff that he would like an internship in the art field. Cody was then accepted into the BUILD program with hopes to help him grow. 

 But Cody had a rocky first 7 weeks – he struggled with tardiness and absences. He also had a lot of outside commitments that took him away from the program but he tried to work the program to the best of his ability.  

 Cody and the BUILD staff worked together to find an internship he would like. They looked for a Native-based program that would be willing to take him on and train him for the job. 

 Cody was placed in an internship at an art gallery where he flourished. His supervisor reported that his attendance was great and that he was excelling in the internship. He told staff that he highly enjoyed the work and was very happy to have this opportunity.  

 After his 9-week internship, staff and supervisors referred him to a local art gallery for a job, which he got. Not only is Cody is making a living and enjoying what he does, but he has re-enrolled in college and just completed his first semester. 

Through hard work and utilzining the resources available to him, Cody found success through the BUILD program at Takoda Works. 

*Participant’s name has been changed for their privacy

Samantha Fairbanks, Social Worker

Takoda Prep Students Attend Q-Quest

Two-Spirited youth and allies attend annual LGBTQ+ festival

This winter, Takoda Prep students attended Q-Quest, MN School OUTreach Coalition’s 14 Annual Youth Festival. This youth-focused conference has become a popular choice for our self-identified Two-Spirited youth or allies. The event unites approximately 400 youth from the Metro and Greater MN area. This year’s workshops focused on topics that included self-love, healthy relationships, youth voice, gay-straight alliances, and many others.  The resource fair was also a hit with students finding information to keep them safe, healthy, educated, and connected to LGBTQ+ specific (or friendly) services.  

As always, the entertainment was phenomenal and allowed us the opportunity to physically express our “fierce” selves.  The day closed with the ever popular “Open Mic” segment, where even the shyest student finds the courage to display their talent in the form of poetry, song, dance, comedy, or skit.  Overall, the event has been inspirational and we look forward to attending future events. 

Jessica Rousseau, Plus Case Coordinator

GED “Lunch and Learn” gives students a broader learning experience

GED develop useful soft skills as they discuss pressing topics with classmates

In addition to regular class time and tutoring hours, Takoda GED offers a “Lunch and Learn” session three times a week where students form a talking circle and discuss topics regarding current events and curriculum.  

This is a way to incorporate Native teaching practices as well as allow students to explore and discuss topics that interest them. So far, some topics discussed have been:  

Current events: 

  • Controversial Halloween costumes 
  • Reasons people don’t or can’t vote 
  • Voter ID requirements 
  • Violence against Native women 
  • California wildfires 
  • Changes to Metro Transit routes 
  • Navigation Center for Hiawatha encampment 
  • Harm reduction models for helping opioid users 


  • Reading infographics 
  • Using algebraic expressions to describe patterns 
  • Mosaic art with fractions, decimals, and percentages 

 Takoda GED’s Lunch and Learn sessions have helped students develop soft skills like critical thinking, discussion, and conflict resolution, as well as relationship development. 

 Annessia Swann, Director of Takoda GED

Jason’s Story

Jason found success at Takoda while taking advantage of the many resources available to him

In a quick conversation with Takoda Institute graduate Jason, it’s clear how much ambition and perseverance he has to better his and his family’s life.

Before enrolling at Takoda, Jason was a window cleaner for over 10 years and worked in various maintenance and other physically straining jobs. Wanting a more sustainable career, Jason enrolled in Takoda to get career training and employment services.

Jason first enrolled in Takoda’s Minnesota Families Investment Program (MFIP), and went on to enroll in Takoda Institute’s Computer Support Specialist training. In 9 months, Jason achieved an accredited certificate, and is currently studying to complete his A+ certification, a credential that will improve his career outlook.

“I was amazed by the amount of support at Takoda. It was overwhelming,” says Jason. “The classes are small, which offers more attention from instructors. The students are friendly, too. We asked each other questions and offered help.”

Over the past year, Jason has become a familiar face at Takoda. He can usually be found studying for his test and searching for jobs in the campus’s Career Resource Center.

From MFIP, to career training, to employment services, Jason has taken advantage all the resources Takoda offers and in turn taken his future into his own hands. In fact, his advice to future Takoda students is to “take advantage of all the resources you have access to. Stay on top of homework and listen to you instructors. Even if you get frustrated, keep working.”

Ivy Estenson, Development Coordinator