Yawa’, an ancient word that means “to act on one’s beliefs,” is a concept passed down through generations among the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and embodies a common purpose to protect and sustain the land and the people who share it.
It is in this spirit of altruism the tribe continues to donate to its neighbors; the most recent took place on Friday, Sept. 29 when Lynn Valbuena, chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, announced a $3.4 million donation to Goodwill for #SBWorks, an employment initiative to put people to work in Greater San Bernardino.
“The Inland Empire is our home, and our ancestral lands cover the majority of San Bernardino County. We feel an obligation to work with our neighboring communities to help bring economic growth and stability to the region,” said Valbuena. “We are excited to collaborate with Goodwill and the City on this initiative as well as serving as a regional employer that is creating jobs for our community.”
San Manuel Casino currently employs 4,300 people, and according to Valbuena there will be hundreds more new positions that will open up.
San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis noted job creation remains one of the city’s highest priorities, citing the Inland Valley Development Agency has restored 10,780 jobs.
“Central to the economic health of our community is fiscal sustainability, job creation, and workforce development,” Davis wrote in a statement. “It is clear that attainment of these goals requires a collaborative approach to create the San Bernardino we all want.”
Over the next three years #SBWorks aims to place over 1,500 people in jobs. Immediately following the press conference 14 employers participated in a job fair where 150 pre-screened applicants interviewed for companies that included San Manuel, Cardenas, Dominos and Arco.
“We are honored to receive this generous grant award from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to expand our employment services and to have their support to make a positive and lasting change in our region,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and CEO of Goodwill Southern California. “This grant allows us to invest in building our regional capacity to aggressively assist the region’s job seekers.”
Goodwill employs over 3,000 people including at-risk youth, parolees, people with disabilities, homeless persons and veterans like Van Nguyen who found it challenging to translate his military skills to the civilian workforce. Today he works for San Manuel Casino.
“We transform people’s lives from hopeless to hopeful by getting them on a path that will change their lives,” McClenahan said. “Goodwill is committed to this partnership with San Manuel and the City because we believe we are much greater together in facing challenges.”
Over the three-year grant period Goodwill aims to:
• Serve 3,760 job seekers and place 1,580 in employment
• Create a partner network by engaging up to 75 organizations
• Host at least 10 organizational trainings to enhance partner efforts
• Create eight regional workforce initiatives to facilitate career advancement for those with barriers to employment
• Provide professional development training for 210 nonprofit professionals
• Host four forums to address strategies for engaging the disconnected job seeker
These efforts will ultimately result in a wage gain estimate of $22 million for the region. The unemployment rate for those living below the poverty rate (about 20% of the population) is 31.8% and 29.8% in San Bernardino and Riverside counties respectively.
“The city is glad to work alongside these partners to improve the quality of life of San Bernardino residents; we look forward to working toward better outcomes for the San Bernardino community and the Inland Empire,” Davis concluded. “We are appreciative of the efforts of all our community partners that strive to make San Bernardino better.”
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