Cheyenne River Youth Project staff
Published November 14, 2015
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — It’s been a huge week for the Cheyenne River Youth Project®, which has served children and families on South Dakota’s remote 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation for 27 years. The not-for-profit, grassroots youth organization has won the Bush Foundation’s 2015 Bush Prize for Community Innovation and the Wellmark Foundation’s Community Kickstarter grant.
CRYP is one of eight organizations to receive the 2015 Bush Prize. Along with its fellow award winners, it will receive an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the organization’s budget for the previous fiscal year.
The Bush Foundation awards the Bush Prize to organizations with solid track records of bringing great ideas to life. Winners demonstrate a pattern of inclusive, collaborative and resourceful problem-solving processes that lead to innovative solutions. These solutions address community challenges through effective, equitable and sustainable breakthroughs.
“The Bush Prize is an investment in the future of organizations that know how to think bigger and think differently,” said Mandy Ellerton, community innovation director. “We want to take some daily pressure off these extraordinary organizations to give them the time and space to think creatively about their next steps and new challenges.”
Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, said her staff members were beside themselves to learn that their organization would receive the Bush Prize this year.
“We’ve always had to be creative with our limited resources, and we’re certainly proud of the culturally relevant, high-quality programming and services we offer despite the challenges we face,” Garreau said. “However, the reality is that we have two large teen and youth centers to operate, along with our 3.5-acre art park, 2-acre garden, cafe, gift shop, Family Services department and a variety of regular events and activities. The 2015 Bush Prize is going to make an enormous difference as we seek to take our organization to the next level, with sustainable programming, facilities and support for our community.”
The Bush Foundation received 110 Bush Prize applications from across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 native nations that share the same geography. Panels of community members within each of the three states chose the winners from their respective state.
“Innovation can be difficult to define in words, but the track record of these eight organizations paints a clear picture of the concept,” said Jennifer Ford Reedy, the Bush Foundation’s president. “They all think outside the box, and are open, resourceful and completely invested in finding solutions for the region.”
CRYP also learned this week that it won a Wellmark Foundation Community Kickstarter grant, designed to support projects that would make communities more active or improve access to healthy foods. The youth project was one of 22 award recipients in South Dakota.
The public voted for their favorite project among 130 entries, with more than 57,000 coming in during the two-week voting period. CRYP’s project, a walking path in the year-old Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Park was a clear favorite. The quarter- to half-mile Waniyetu Wowapi Art Walk will loop through the art park and CRYP’s Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) organic garden, providing people of all ages with the ability to access the park, experience the artwork, go walking or running, enjoy the fresh air and reconnect with the earth.
“This path will fill a void in at our East Lincoln Street campus, as we currently do not have a continuous, safe outdoor space for people to exercise,” Garreau said. “Elders will have a nice place to walk, spend time among the young people and get out in the fresh air. Kids, teens and adults will have a maintained space to walk or jog year round, encouraging them to be outside and to stay active.”
CRYP is planning to install benches at various points along the art walk for rest and reflection. The youth project staff also is planning to use the path as an outdoor classroom where they can host diabetes-prevention and wellness classes, as well as fitness challenges.
The Wellmark Foundation’s Stephanie Perry said it was clear from the online voting that community members are very passionate about their projects and the impact they will have now and for future generations.
“These grants empower them to continue improving upon the health and well-being of their communities for years to come,” she said.
Garreau said CRYP’s staff, volunteers and worldwide network of alumni, partners and friends are deeply grateful to the Bush Foundation and Wellmark Foundation.
“Youth work in a community like ours has a lot of highs and lows,” she said. “This week, we’re on an incredible high. We offer our heartfelt thanks to both foundations, and to all the individuals who voted for us in the Community Kickstarter initiative. Thanks to you all, we have the support we need to continue pursuing our mission, and our long-term vision, here on Cheyenne River. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our children.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).