$600k Awarded from BIG Program | South Dakota Community Foundation

$600,000 Awarded from Beyond Idea Grant Program

June 30, 2023 // Grants, Beyond Idea Grant Program

Seven South Dakota nonprofits will receive grant awards totaling just over $600,000 from the South Dakota Community Foundation’s (SDCF) Beyond Idea Grant (BIG) program. Offered in partnership with the Bush Foundation, the BIG program supports community-based problem-solving efforts in South Dakota. The announcement showcases recipients from the first round of the BIG program in 2023.

“Our awardees in this round are addressing important issues across our state, from mental health, transportation, homeownership, education and leadership development,” says Ginger Niemann, SDCF Senior Program Officer. “Funds from our BIG program will help these nonprofits design and test ideas to move their unique efforts forward.”

SDCF received 89 applications in the first round of the BIG program for 2023. A review committee comprised of individuals from across South Dakota chose to financially support the following projects:


Alzheimer’s Association South Dakota Chapter – $50,635

A statewide needs assessment conducted by the South Dakota Alzheimer's Disease State Plan Work Group found access to dementia caregiver services and resources is severely compromised in rural and small South Dakota communities. With BIG funding, the Alzheimer’s Association’s plan is to identify, train and empower at least one volunteer in 33 of South Dakota's 66 counties to serve as an expert and connector on dementia and caregiver services. Alzheimer's Association volunteers provide critical support to those living with the disease and their caregivers, yet only 11 of South Dakota's counties have an active volunteer providing this community service.

Eastern South Dakota

REACH Literacy – $62,400

BIG funding will help REACH Literacy expand their Pathways to Promotion program, which they beta tested with Sanford and Avera Hospital, and focuses on learners who use English as a second language. The Pathways to Promotion provides educational opportunities that includes training as pre-Certified Nursing Assistants, pre-Med Aide classes, Driver’s License preparation, and Math for adults to become more independent. REACH believes that education is the key to breaking the cycle of language and communication barriers. This project aims to create avenues for adults to move upward in their careers, lifestyle, and finances. REACH has primarily focused their work in Sioux Falls and plans to expand to more rural, agricultural businesses where English Language services would be valuable for workforce development.

Bridging the Opportunity Gap – $100,000

SDCF is awarding funding to support Bridging the Opportunity Gap with their leadership development program called Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT). LOT is a leadership program that provides personal and professional development, mentorship, and community engagement to its participants and graduates. This program has been running for 5 years, graduating more than 400 community leaders. They plan to expand the program. One of the major disparities LOT addresses is the gap in diverse representation in leadership, and also the accessibility of professional/leadership development programs to those who may not otherwise get access or be given an opportunity to experience this level of intentional training and development, either due to income, background, ethnicity, or employment status. LOT’s idea is that by developing leaders and providing tools where otherwise there wouldn't be, they present an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

Lost&Found – $100,000

Lost&Found is receiving funding to develop, launch, and fully integrate a mobile application that will be utilized to increase the impact of mental health and suicide prevention programs happening on college and high school campuses in key communities across South Dakota. The goal of their project is to do two key things: 1) It will integrate with existing in-person resilience building programs at several campuses across the state to increase reach of peer support programs, build data-gathering capacity for mental health related work, and give students access to critical resources both on campus and within their communities. 2) It will allow students easy access to potentially life-saving mental health education and support. This app will be developed with South Dakota student developers and testers, increasing impact through a student-driven program.

Western South Dakota

Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, Inc – $100,000

Since inception, Mazaska has helped to create 138 new homeowners on the Pine Ridge Reservation. BIG funds will help them expand homebuyer readiness across the reservation through community coaching, homebuyer readiness classes, and talking circles, all in continuation of their “relationship lending” model for supporting aspiring homeowners. Mazaska will test using a Community Support Network with aspiring homeowners on the Pine Ridge Reservation to help connect aspiring homeowners with individuals and entities that can assist them towards their homeownership goals.

Cheyenne River Youth Project – $100,000

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation has a severe housing shortage that impedes Cheyenne River Youth Project’s (CRYP) ability to attract and retain qualified management level staff for their growing youth centers. Their idea is to develop workforce housing for CRYP by building "tiny homes" to accommodate the relocation of new staff. Over the past few years, CRYP has developed this workforce development model by purchasing several land parcels around Eagle Butte, some with and some without existing housing structures. CRYP's goal is to improve the housing stock in Eagle Butte, beautify the community, increase property values, create jobs, and grow their local economy.

SHIFT Garage – $100,000

SHIFT Garage seeks to better connect low-income, low-credit individuals and families with transportation solutions without the predatory practices that some “Bad Credit, No Credit, No Problem” dealers use. BIG Funding will support a pilot program called UPSHIFT. The UPSHIFT program operates with two main steps: 1) Connect participants with a credible partnering lender, including having the participant complete financial courses. 2) Assist participants with selecting and purchasing an UPSHIFT vehicle. As a non-profit dealer, SHIFT Garage already receives numerous vehicle donations yearly. The donated vehicles are inspected, repaired and then resold to participants for far under retail value. This reduction in price gives both the participant and lender peace of mind.

A total of $1.2 million dollars will be available for the SDCF to award in 2023. SDCF will open round two for the BIG program in August. Interested organizations can visit SDCommunityFoundation.org/BIG to review the grant guidelines, deadlines and application instructions. In order to qualify, a nonprofit must be IRS Publication 78 verified or have a fiscal sponsor. Any questions regarding the program can be directed to Ginger Niemann by phone at 800.888.1842 or by email gniemann@sdcommunityfoundation.org.

SDCF is a public non-profit organization established in 1987. SDCF, with offices in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen administers 1,200 funds benefiting hundreds of charitable organizations annually. The Foundation distributed nearly $30 million in grants in 2022 which made a tremendous difference in communities statewide. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our donors. If you have a specific cause you would like to support or would prefer to give for the general good of our state, please visit https://sdcommunityfoundation.org/giving to learn more or call 1-800-888-1842.

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Established in 1953 by 3M Executive Archibald Bush and his wife Edyth, the Foundation encourages individuals and organizations to think bigger and think differently about what is possible in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area.