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Request would help fund youth employment on Navajo Nation
Measure seeks almost $750,000 from $31.2 million fund
FARMINGTON — A new bill seeks a total of almost $750,000 in supplemental funding from the Navajo Nation's Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to help the Office of Diné Youth's administrative office and five agency locations.
Tribal Council Delegate Jonathan Hale, who represents the Oak Springs and St. Michaels chapters in Arizona, is sponsoring the bill.
Hale said in a telephone interview on Friday that the bill had been developed in collaboration with department officials.
Under the proposal, the administrative office in Window Rock, Ariz., would receive $30,189 for travel expenses and to operate the program throughout the fiscal year.
The department has two agency locations in New Mexico and three agency locations in Arizona. Each location would use the supplemental funding to provide salaries for high school and college students hired as temporary employees or as interns.
The location in Shiprock is seeking $69,952 from the total amount. That request would provide money to hire additional support staff members and offer temporary employment for 76 high school students and 20 college students, according to the bill.
"It's an opportunity for youth to seek some type of employment. …I'm sure youth out there want to do something," Hale said.
He said that employment opportunities created by the Office of Diné Youth would focus on career development beyond similar job programs managed by the chapters.
Hale added several students apply for such openings at chapters but are told only one individual per family can participate in youth employment opportunities. There is more flexibility under the Office of Diné Youth to hire students, Hale said.
As of Sept. 8, the balance of the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance is at $31.2 million, according to a memorandum from the Office of the Controller.
The bill was assigned to three standing committees and to the tribal council, where final authority rests.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.