Reducing poverty discussed at NORA summit
Cherokee Phoenix (Oklahoma)
By: Tesina Jackson
November 8, 2012
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - On Oct. 30-31, representatives from different organizations discussed improving the quality of life and reducing poverty in northeast Oklahoma during the fourth annual Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance at Northeastern State University.
Dr. Rachel Green, NSU assistant professor for educational foundation leadership, said the discussion focused on the issues of parenting and family asset building, including financial education.
"Our charge today was for us to take a look at barriers to further education and that we were also going to look at the action steps that would be put into place for 2013 and what entities needed to be involved in those action plans," Green said.
The group concentrated on three schools within the Cherokee Nation's 14-county jurisdiction that have a high poverty and low college degree rate. Single parent household percentages were also included.
"I included single parent households mainly because I was looking at the fact that, that would affect an income," Green said. "Dual family households are obviously going to be a different income than single family households."
The goal was to find a way to assist low-income families in achieving positive quality of life through gaining employable skills via higher education and vocational training.
Some discussion focused on how to encourage kids to attend college and the barriers that keep kids from receiving higher education and training. The panel created a list of possible barriers that students face, which included money, time, child care, transportation, perceived effort and access and culture.
"I think in Native American culture it can be a family tradition, to have to stay home and help take care of family," attendee Robin Stand said. "That could prevent them from going on to higher education."
After a list of barriers was made, participants broke into groups and came up with items of action that can be done in or start in 2013 to overcome those barriers. The groups then focused on a plan to combat transportation and culture barriers, which included students taking online classes, living on campus and educating parents more on what is available to help students pursue higher education.
"Educating is so important. It's not trying to change their ways or trying to influence them in a certain way. It's just, here are your options, this is what you can do and that's why it is so critical," attendee Bridget Tobey said.
Even though the group did not discuss ways to overcome each barrier, Green said each person who attended represented resources that could find ways to overcome barriers, reduce poverty by assisting low-income families and achieve a positive quality of life.
"The people that are here today are valuable, valuable resources and probably each of you represent minimally 10 other valuable resources," Green said. "Maybe more people could come together and work on these things."
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