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Grant helps expand out-of-school programs for South Dakota’s Indian Reservations

Red Dawn Foster was hired as SDAN’s Tribal Liaison to carry out this grant initiative
Red Dawn Foster was hired as SDAN’s Tribal Liaison to carry out this grant initiative(South Dakota Afterschool Network)
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:19 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota Afterschool Network (SDAN) was awarded a grant to help expand out-of-school programs for South Dakota’s Indian Reservations.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded the SDAN a STEM Next grant to expand resources for the start-up and expansion of out-of-school time programming specifically on South Dakota’s nine Indian Reservations.

Red Dawn Foster was hired as SDAN’s Tribal Liaison to carry out this grant initiative. Foster’s goal will be to support Indian Reservation education agencies by designing and implementing ARP-Funded after-school and summer learning programs. The initiative will aim to provide lifelong connection and access to sustainable care and services. Studies show that afterschool programs support high school graduation rates and increased literacy proficiency among many other benefits, according to a press release from the SDAN.

“I’m excited to bring these resources to our communities,” said Red Dawn Foster, SDAN Tribal Liaison. “Many families on the reservation don’t have access to an afterschool program. Helping to bring the tools to build this vital resource gives our children another opportunity to learn, explore and engage with hands-on activities. Afterschool programs provide kids a space to be creative, innovative, and learn real-world skills they will use for a lifetime.”

According to the Afterschool Alliance, there is an all-time high of unmet demand for afterschool programs. In South Dakota, 42,000 children would be enrolled in a program if one were available to them. This disparity is disproportionately heavier on the South Dakota reservations which currently have very few out-of-school programs in operation.

“We know that out-of-school time programs are an essential piece to keeping kids safe, inspiring a lifelong love of learning, and supporting social-emotional wellness,” said Billy Mawhiney, SDAN Executive Director. “We have been presented with a unique opportunity to provide additional support to help programs implement the ARP funds that have been allocated for out-of-school time. We’re passionate about helping programs build strong foundations and create sustainable programs that lead to strong communities. Red Dawn is a welcome addition to our team to do just that!”

The program launch is underway with the identification of stakeholders and a needs assessment is currently taking place. The introduction of new programming opportunities and locations will follow, according to the release.

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