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Tulalip College Center provides construction training and valuable life skills to Native Americans


A unique partnership between Edmonds College, the Tulalip Tribes, and the Department of Education assists in community development and jobs training.

TULALIP, Wash. — The Tulalip College Center is helping to train skilled Native American workers in the construction trades where they learn valuable skills that are also transferable. The Tulalip Tribes, in partnership with Edmonds College and the U.S. Department of Education, is offering this training to its members, as well as other Native Americans, in order to help them obtain the necessary skills to enter the job market; as well as provide skilled labor for tribal construction projects, and to meet the labor demands for a growing region.

The 10-week course provides students instruction in the basics of the construction trade. In addition they are awarded a flagging certification, First AID/CPR, and an OSHA 10 Hour Safety Card. Upon completion of the course students are ready to safely enter the construction work environment.

“This program is a wonderful learning opportunity for our members and other Native Americans. It gives our people, regardless of age or employability, a chance to learn a trade and contribute to the building of our community. Many of the program’s graduates go on to achieve gainful employment with our tribal construction department, or with one of the many construction companies in the region,” said Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon.

“We’re very proud of those who complete the program, and we value our partnership with the US Department of Education and Edmonds College in implementing this valuable vocational learning opportunity.”

The Tulalip College Center’s construction training program is funded through a Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP) grant and implemented through a partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, Edmonds College, and the U.S. Department of Education.

It is an innovative program that produces results—putting Native Americans to work in the construction trades. The program welcomes 50-60 students a year, many of whom go on to successful employment in the construction trades, while others use their positive experience in the program to obtain other entry-level jobs.

The program serves a wide range of ages and is comprised of both genders. Upon completing the ten week course, wherein they have learned the basics of the construction trades (using tools, reading blue prints, pouring concrete, building frames, and installing insulation and dry wall) students are ready to safely join a job site as entry-level construction workers.

While many participants are underemployed when they enter the construction training program, those who successfully complete it speak to the positive changes they experience in all aspects of their lives. The success of the program lies in the fact that it provides students structure, builds self-esteem and a work ethic, and allows them to begin to build a new future for themselves and their families. The Tulalip Tribes is very proud of this program and would like to share the story with others.

"Edmonds College is grateful to be able to lend our expertise in Construction Industry Training to this partnership. Employers need these skilled workers. This is a great educational model initiated by the Tulalip Tribes,” said Edmonds College President Dr. Jean Hernandez.

Tulalip Tribes has partnered with Everett Community College, Edmonds College and Northwest Indian College in implementing the Native American Career and Technical Education Program. Entitled Tulalip College Center, the NACTEP grant focuses on enrolling 125 students each year in four industry-recognized college-certified career clusters: construction trades, tribal enterprise (business) management, hospitality/tourism and health & safety/facilities management.

These four clusters specifically focus on career development opportunities currently emerging in the Tulalip community.

About the Tulalip Tribes The Tulalip Tribes of Washington is a federally recognized Indian Tribe and the successors in interest to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other allied Tribes and bands who were signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott. The 22,000 acre Tulalip Indian Reservation is located north of Everett and the Snohomish River, and west of Marysville, Washington. Tribal government provides Tribal membership with health and dental clinics, family and senior housing, human services, utilities, cultural and history activities, schools, childcare, higher education assistance and recreation. The Tribes maintain an aggressive environmental preservation program, both on and off of the Reservation, to protect the Snohomish region’s natural resources: marine waters, tidelands, fresh water rivers and lakes, wetlands, and forests. Developable land and an economic development zone along the I-5 corridor provide revenue and services for these efforts and for Tribal members. This economic development is managed through Quil Ceda Village, the first tribally chartered city in the United States. The Tribes have approximately 4,100 members, with 2,600 members living on the Reservation. The governing body is the seven-member Tulalip Board of Directors.