Bush Prize: South Dakota Winners
South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) is proud to partner with the Bush Foundation to offer the Bush Prize: South Dakota – an award that celebrates organizations highly valued within their communities that have a track record of successful community problem solving. Bush Prize: South Dakota grants are flexible and can be used to build up reserves, test the next big idea or support whatever else will aid the organization's ongoing good work.
After carefully reviewing 48 applications, SDCF was honored to award the 2023 Bush Prize: South Dakota to two amazing South Dakota nonprofits--Black Hills Special Services Cooperative (BHSSC) and the Lost&Found Association. BHSSC will receive the maximum award of $500,000 and Lost&Found will receive $185,000.
SDCF’s Senior Program Officer Ginger Niemann had the opportunity to sit down with BHSSC’s Executive Deputy Director Dr. Pam Lange, as well as Lost&Found’s Executive Director and CEO Erik Muckey. During their conversation Ginger, Pam and Erik discussed the work of their nonprofits and what the future looks like as Bush Prize: South Dakota Winners.
BHSSC practices innovative and collaborative processes in several ways in their work with schools and families across South Dakota. They provide specialized educational services and resources to cater to the unique learning needs of students and families in the Black Hills region as well as across the state.
“If our schools and families are working together, then our students will be more successful,” shared Pam as she talked about the work BHSSC does.
“If our schools and families are working together, then our students will be more successful.”Dr. Pam Lange, BHSSC
BHSSC directly serves 12 school districts but also has a statewide reach which includes South Dakota’s nine native nations. They face unique challenges in reaching rural communities, with a goal of fulfilling the specific needs of each school district and community they work within.
“We don’t have a one-size-fits-all offering, and we look at the unique individual needs of each and every community we serve,” shared Pam.
Erik Muckey of Lost&Found shared the vital work of his organization, highlighting the growing importance of Lost&Found’s ability to expand its reach.
“The leading cause of death among South Dakotans under the age of 29 is suicide, and that is a new statistic within the last three years. So not only is the work we do critical, but to receive this funding has been a critical lifeline to us as an organization to be able to sustain and grow our programs,” said Erik.
Lost&Found advocates for mental health awareness and provides resources for individuals facing mental health challenges, reducing stigma, and connecting people with vital support. As a nonprofit, they demonstrate innovation through their data-driven and collaborative work with colleges across South Dakota, which has included developing and deploying a Campus Resilience Index as a planning tool, guiding a student-to-student mentorship program and currently developing a mobile app as a peer support tool for the digital age.
“We’ve been at the forefront in many ways of trying to fill the gaps in mental health needs. The position we are in as an organization is really impactful at a time when it is needed most, and we feel very grateful to be doing the work we do,” shared Erik.
“We’ve been at the forefront in many ways of trying to fill the gaps in mental health needs.”Erik Muckey, Lost&Found Director & CEO
Both BHSSC and Lost&Found are making a collective impact on South Dakota to ensure the future is bright for young South Dakotans, and they are thankful for the shared connection they have with SDCF.
“I hope folks know there are nonprofits you can believe in and trust,” said Erik, “because of all the South Dakota Community Foundation does.”