South Dakota's First Need-Based Scholarship Program

January 14, 2021 // Donors
Premier Scholarship Announcement

The South Dakota Community Foundation is proud to be a partner in the launch of South Dakota’s first need-based scholarship program. During a January 6 event, First Premier Bank and T. Denny Sanford announced a $50 million gift to seed what is meant to grow into a $200 million endowment to fund college scholarships for students from low-income families. The program will be named the Premier Scholarship Fund.

At the same event, Gov. Kristi Noem announced her intention to ask the South Dakota State Legislature to commit $50 million toward the scholarship fund. PREMIER Bankcard CEO Miles Beacom also called on other businesses to contribute to the fund.

That first $50 million has been deposited in SDCF, and the scholarship program will be administered by the Foundation. When funded at $200 million, the Premier Fund will produce $9-$10 million in scholarships.

Recipients of the scholarships will be required to work in South Dakota for three years after graduation. The first scholarship awards will be offered in 2022. South Dakota is the last state in the country to create a need-based scholarship program.

About the SDCF

SDCF is a public non-profit organization established in 1987. SDCF, with offices in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen administers over 980 funds benefiting hundreds of charitable organizations annually. The Foundation distributed nearly $18 million in grants in 2019 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 to learn more or call 800-888-1842.

Pictured left to right: SDSU President Barry H. Dunn; Deni Amundson, Build Dakota Scholarship Program Manager; SD Governor Kristi Noem; SDCF President & CEO Stephanie Judson; Dana Dykhouse, CEO of First PREMIER Bank; and Miles Beacom, CEO of PREMIER Bankcard