I recently visited Itom Mahtawa’ Apo, a tribal education center and Travois New Markets project, on the Pascua Yaqui reservation in Tucson, AZ.
In addition to the many culture and technology programs offered at the center, it also houses a comprehensive education department called YES, or Yaqui Education Services, and an adult education program for GED certification and ongoing training.
The program currently has 100 students ranging in ages from 16 to 55. There are two tutoring rooms, computer labs, ample classroom space, eight staff members and eight curriculum programs. I was lucky enough to speak with two current students, Aydeluz and Nicolas, about the GED program and their future goals.
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe intends for the education center to not only educate tribal members about their culture and history, but also combat the local poverty rate of nearly 38 percent and the 19-percent unemployment rate. During construction, 60 jobs were created, and since opening, the center provides 40 permanent jobs. As students graduate and enter the workforce or start new businesses, they will continue to grow and strengthen the economy and their community.