Navajo Nation leaders approve $4M to help summer youth employment programs

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Citing the benefit of employing high school and college students at the local level, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a $4 million supplemental funding bill to help summer youth employment programs.

Each of the 110 chapters offer the program, which usually operates in the summer when students are away from school.

However, the bill the Navajo Nation Council passed on June 23 allows the supplemental funds to be used to employ students throughout the year.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Eugene Tso speaks on July 1 at the signing ceremony in Shiprock for the bill to provide funding for the summer youth employment program.

As with previous years, the council resolution directs that 50% of the appropriation be equally distributed among the 110 chapters, and the remaining half be divided based on the number of registered voters in each chapter.

The Northern Agency will receive $763,916 for distribution among the 20 chapters.

"This is for the benefit of our kids. Ahéhee'," Shiprock Chapter president Nevina Kinlahcheeny said after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed the bill on July 1.

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Nez, along with Vice President Myron Lizer and Delegate Eugene Tso, who sponsored the bill, were joined by Shiprock Chapter officials and community members at the signing ceremony near the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signs on July 1 in Shiprock the tribal council resolution to provide $4 million in supplemental funding for the summer youth employment program.

Each leader remarked on how employment through the program set students on the path to understanding work responsibilities, job skills and what it takes to earn paychecks.

"So that they can work, so that they can buy some clothes ‐ right, parents, that's a good one ‐ so they get their supplies and get ready to go back to school," Nez said were among his reasons for supporting the bill.

Lizer said students can list the skills they learn on their resumes and the money helps them with school expenses.

"Early employment is one type of formative experience that can have significant benefits for youth's trajectory into adulthood," Lizer said.

Nez signed the bill and a letter to Speaker Seth Damon, then passed the documents to the vice president for his signature.

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Shiprock residents and chapter officials joined Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer and council Delegate Eugene Tso on July 1 for a signing ceremony to provide funding to the summer youth employment program.

Tso said in an interview after the signing ceremony that he tried to have the bill approved before summer vacation, but delegates took time to evaluate and discuss it.

Despite the time that passed since he introduced the legislation in March, he said he was glad it was approved by the council and Nez.

"It's signed. It's real," Tso said adding students can use the money to buy what they need for school, which relieves some worry for parents.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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