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‘Important project’: $4M requested for summer youth employment


On May 4, Delegate Eugene Tso introduced a bill (No. 0060-22) that would provide $4 million from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance for the summer youth employment program.

Pearl Yellowman, director of the Division of Community Development, called the program one of the important projects that the division administers.

“It does involve all 110 chapters and an opportunity for the chapter to engage and provide summer employment to the youth there, so we do seek your support,” she said.

Yellowman said the DCD is encouraging chapters to work with youth in areas such as with the Healthy Diné Nation Act and the Solid Waste Recycling Program.

During the summer youth program, the chapters will incorporate the act by having communities look into recreational programs and paths. Solid waste recycling will educate young people about recycling on a community level.

“Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit some chapters, during their summer youth employment days,” Yellowman said, “and they were becoming very innovative with their summer employment program and we want to support that.”

Delegate Mark Freeland supported the legislation since he once participated in the program when he was younger.

“These mechanisms really help a lot of our youth,” he said. “I always remember being a summer youth worker. At that time it was $3.25 an hour and, you know, getting a $200 check back then was a huge deal to me.”

He learned a lot from the experience and believes this program can help youth today learn the same or similar skills.

“One thing I learned, one really good trade I learned from the experience was roofing, re-roofing,” Freeland said. “Working with roofing paper, shingles, fixing roofs and it taught me a lot and I’m glad I did that because now I know how to work on roofs now.”

In the past, funding for the summer youth program had guidelines about employment lasting from May to August. This year, Yellowman is requesting Council to be more flexible at the chapter level.

Flexibility will allow the chapters to employ college and high school students who have different breaks due to impacts to class schedules from COVID-19 and the use of hybrid classes where some students are not fully back in person.

“We also wanted to make sure that we were adjusting and adapting to some of the hybrid situations that our college students may be experiencing with their universities or any of our high school students,” Yellowman said.

The legislation will be allocated across the different agencies as follows:

  • Eastern Agency: $1,053,097.
  • Fort Defiance Agency: $974,038.
  • Shiprock Agency: $763,916.
  • Western Agency: $683,569.
  • Chinle Agency: $525,380.

The legislation was voted to move on to the Budget and Finance Committee, 5-0.

If approved at Budget and Finance, it will move to the Naabik’iyáti Committee then the Navajo Nation Council.

The bill and more details can be viewed at

About The Author

Hannah John

Hannah John is from Coyote Canyon, N.M., and currently based out of Gallup as a reporter for the Navajo Times. She is Bit’ah’nii (Within His Cover), born for Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around), maternal grandfather is Tábaahí (Water Edge) and paternal grandfather is Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water). She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in Native American studies. She recently worked with the Daily Lobo and the Rio Grande Sun.


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