The South Dakota Afterschool Network (SDAN), whose mission is to support and sustain quality afterschool, out-of-school time (OST) and youth development programs to serve the needs of South Dakota’s youth, was awarded a STEM Next grant through the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The grant will allow SDAN 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 in the design and implementation of ARP-Funded afterschool and summer learning programs. Working to expand opportunities for programs within their community will take focus as pathways of communication are built that will provide lifelong connection and access to sustainable wrap-around care and services.
“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, in South Dakota, unmet demand for afterschool programs has reached an all-time high, with more than 42,000 children who 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. Studies show that afterschool programs support high school graduation rates and increased literacy proficiency among many other benefits.
“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!”
Program launch is underway with the identification of stakeholders and needs assessment work currently taking place. The introduction of new programming opportunities and locations will follow.