Provide a brief story of student success that illustrates the power of ABE programming to make positive change for the individuals and communities served. (Be sure to obtain student permission for any personal information or work included.)

An 18-year-old was working on her GED. She had been working in the childcare center and needed to have her GED to obtain her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. She had taken and passed three of the subjects but fell 1 point short on the Math test. The following week she retook the math test and scored 149, again. She was determined to get her GED. She took the math test for the third time and passed with a score of 151!

She diligently worked on her CDA while working in childcare. During this time, we were notified that the GED passing score has been changed to 145. At that point, she has passed the Math test 3 times. She is still employed in childcare as a lead teacher.


Describe the most pressing challenges the consortium is currently facing. Include any ideas for addressing these challenges but note that it is acceptable to acknowledge and describe challenges even without a proposal for addressing them.

The 2015 Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s Minnesota Early Childhood Risk and Reach Report examined economic risks, health risks, and family stability risks in all Minnesota counties. Then each county was assigned an overall risk status. The MLBO has land in three counties: Mille Lacs, Aitkin, and Pine – Mille Lacs and Pine counties are considered high risk. Aitkin County is considered moderate to high risk.

Barriers to success that our clients face include transportation, housing, addiction, re-entry, and childcare. All of these combine to further limit people’s ability to obtain a Diploma or Degree. The job market in rural Minnesota is limited, with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s casinos and businesses being some of the biggest employers. Family stability is often dependent on the increased job opportunities and wages that educational certifications provide. For any job you get in rural Minnesota, you will need to drive and the lack of transportation for clients limits their ability to get any job that is available. While the unemployment rate is low for the state of Minnesota, the Reservation employment rate is over 7 times that of the State rate. All of the barriers and unmet needs affect employment on the reservation and with the MLBO population.


Transportation continues to be a barrier to employment. There is no public transportation in the outstate, or rural Reservation areas. The rural reservation areas are geographically distant from employment, colleges, and many services. The urban area has a busing system, but people need to be able to afford to ride. Many Band members have less than reliable cars and/or cannot afford the expense of gas money to drive the distances to jobs or other services. In FY22, Aanjibimaadizing assisted families with car repair and auto insurance for employment purposes. Other transportation services included gas cards and limited mileage reimbursement to get to work when first employed, or to attend training. A metro bus card was provided to clients in the urban area to ride the bus. The program also pays the reinstatement fees for those working to get their license back. These services have allowed clients to travel to their jobs and to train so they can obtain and retain employment.


Lack of housing, or affordable housing, is an issue for families and clients living on the rural reservation areas and in the Urban area. The lack of housing limits the ability to maintain stability. Homelessness on the reservation is often unreported, but most clients report some type of housing insecurity. The Mille Lacs Band has continued to expand housing options, but they are not adequate for the number of tribal members living on the reservation. Many families are doubled up or living with other family members. The Mille Lacs Band has a hotel option with staggered rates in District 1, but it is at capacity and there is often a waiting list to stay there. Clients who lack stability in a place to stay often struggle to remain employed. The lack of housing close to places of employment limits the client’s abilities to retain a job, or even obtain employment.

Due to this being a significant barrier, Aanjibimaadizing worked with MLBO Housing to create Zakab Biinjina. Zakab is a supportive housing for clients to help them get back on their path to self-sufficiency. Housing is provided at limited or no cost to allow families to catch up on bills and save for a permanent housing solution. Clients living at Zakab must take financial literacy classes and we refer them to Community Development for home maintenance courses.


Drug overdose continues to affect the lives of many Minnesotans. In 2021, an average of four Minnesotans died each day from a drug overdose, with the total annual number of drug overdose deaths increasing 22% increase from the previous year. Moreover, for every drug overdose death, there were 10 nonfatal drug overdoses. The number of drug overdose deaths in 2021 was the highest annual number ever recorded in the state.

Many clients are struggling with chemical dependency or addiction issues. Chemical dependency affects their ability to obtain a job because many employers require a drug test prior to employment. Chemical dependency also affects their ability to obtain a job because the behaviors linked to addiction do not allow people to function well at the job and have good attendance. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, in October 2022, American Indians in Minnesota were seven times more likely to die of a drug overdose than non-natives.

Alcohol and Chemical Dependency is a significant barrier on the Reservation. Many clients are struggling with addiction themselves or in their family. Employment is affected by poor attendance, being late, high turnover rate, poor decision making, increased difficulty in completing tasks and increased disagreements. Aanjibimaadizing supports client recovery from substance abuse and has implemented facilitators to work to connect clients with services and resources as they progress on this journey. Additional support for clients dealing with addiction is needed for both staff and the clients.

Job Market

The unemployment rate on the reservation lands is double what it is for the rest of the counties where the reservation land is located. This has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Much of the Mille Lacs Band Reservation lies within Mille Lacs County, and the foregoing chart indicates the huge disparity in employment opportunities that exist between the Reservation economy and the surrounding regional economy in our service area. As soon as one crosses the boundary on the reservation, unemployment rates increase as much as 6 times as the surrounding counties.

Mental Health

Clients often have mental health issues that affect their ability to retain a job. These issues are frequently unidentified. Staff need support in working with clients with mental health issues. Clients need support to have overall health including mental health. MLBO has a limited number of therapists available. Aanjibimaadizing facilitators assist clients with obtaining mental health services whenever possible.

Re-Entry and Background Check

Jobs with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe often require a background check. Even other businesses in the rural area also require a background check. For MLBO members with any criminal record, it is a challenge to obtain employment.

A significant number of clients are working with the program as part of probation or re-entry requirements. Aanjibimaadizing works with probation officers to ensure clients can work on their re-entry plans. We also work with MLBO departments to assist people with background check issues that may affect employment. Aanjibimaadizing needs to create a re-entry plan that can better assist clients who need multiple supports when leaving jail or prison. Clients in re-entry need a different approach and have additional needs including finding mentors, developing community, serving others, reuniting families, and finding help. Aanjibimaadizing will be working in the next year to have a cohesive plan to assist clients in re-entry to overcome obstacles and make positive choices.

Child Care

Childcare all over the state of Minnesota is limited. In recent years, many family childcare and child care centers have gone out of business. The lack of childcare in rural areas makes it almost impossible for working families to find care for their children and maintain employment.

With area schools and other partners, Aanjibimaadizing conducted a study in July 2022 regarding childcare needs for the Mille Lacs Band Community. It concluded that there are 3,603 children, ages 5 and younger, living within the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe 3-county service area who are eligible for childcare services. This 3-county service area only has about 800 licensed childcare slots for these 3,603 children. This includes the 180 slots at the three Head Start/Early Head Start/Childcare sites licensed by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe focusing on children enrolled in Federally recognized tribes.

From the Parent Survey –

·       25% indicated they do not use childcare because it is too expensive, or it does not exist.

·       17% drive between 11 & 30 miles to their childcare site with another 17% driving over 30 miles.

·       25% need childcare for over 35 hours per week.

From Childcare Provider Survey –

·       Infant and toddler slots have the largest waiting list.

·       The biggest challenges childcare providers face is low pay and limited ability for time off.

From the Employer Survey –

·       54% indicated that unavailable childcare has caused employees to be absent from work.

·       The biggest challenge employers face is keeping a consistent workforce due to staff shortages and staff turnover.

Childcare is a significant financial burden. The average cost for an infant in Family Childcare is $150/week totaling $7,800 each year. The average cost for an infant in a Childcare Center is $250/week totaling $13,000 each year. The average median household income in the 3-county service area is $52,970 a year. For a two-parent, two-child family in Mille Lacs County, it costs approximately $86,952 to secure a modest, yet adequate, standard of living. The expense of childcare in the urban area makes it a challenge for people with young families to retain a job, with childcare for an infant costing up to $17,000 a year. It is very expensive for both the provider and the family and can easily amount to more than 25% of a family’s income – more than any of their other expenses.


Explain if, when and how the consortium addresses the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion, including but not limited to racial equity. Consider the following:

  • Does the consortium have a vision or strategy for addressing issues of equity? If so, how is this vision or strategy shared amongst staff? If not, how will one be developed?
  • Describe any professional development focused on diversity, equity and inclusion that the consortium has sponsored and/or participated in.
  • If the consortium is participating in diversity, equity and inclusion training or initiatives that are led by a K-12 district, how is training or initiative being made relevant for the ABE context?

The services Aanjibimaadizing provides are individualized and offered in a culturally appropriate way – our core belief is that ALL people should be treated with minwaadendamowin (respect) and zhawenjigewin (kindness).

Like Minnesota Adult Basic Education, Aanjibimaadizing sees ABE as key to building educated, engaged, and just communities for all Minnesotans.

  • We commit to recognizing the historical conditions and barriers that have prevented opportunity and success in learning for students based on their race, class, and other identities.
  • We commit to working to dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value, with a focus on racial equity.
  • We commit to fostering positive and effective learning environments by eliminating institutional policies that uphold oppressive systems of power and privilege.
  • We commit to collaboratively creating a learning community within the ABE system that promotes opportunities for self-reflection, growth, and change.

We work to build relationships with all students and ensure they feel valued, no matter their background, and strive to lead with positivity and eliminate systems of power and privilege. Our offices are considered safe zones for all ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, and sexual orientations.

These values are reiterated monthly at our All-Staff Meetings and through our department culture as a whole.

Our program frequently offers and facilitates trainings that relate to diversity, equity and inclusion. Building Native Communities is offered weekly. Courses on historical trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), and resilience are offered regularly (approximately once/month) to staff and participants.


Section 7 does not have any required documents.