Youth Opportunity Project

Youth Voice Matters

We are excited to announce that 11 students were selected from across the state for the inaugural Youth Opportunity Project Council. The Youth Opportunity Project aims to provide students the opportunity to gain leadership skills, network with peers and key-decision makers while helping to create meaningful change and impact in out-of-school time programming throughout the state.

Participants are South Dakota teens ages 13 and older who attend out-of-school time programs in their communities. They have first-hand experience regarding the impact these programs have made in their own lives, the lives of their families and community. Through monthly virtual meetings participants will provide a youth voice to a variety of issues faced. Students will work on building leadership skills and explore advocacy through interactions during Day at the Capitol mid-January in Pierre where students will have the opportunity to learn about our state’s legislative system and the many moving parts that create change and impact.

Participants will be led by Madelyn Hinkleman, a junior at Summit High School who has taken on the title of Youth Advocate Coordinator with SDAN. Madelyn will work under the guidance of SDAN’s Dawn Marie Johnson, Director of Leadership & Culture to plan and implement a robust experience for participants, giving them a valuable learning experience and outlet to provide meaningful insight that programs throughout the state can benefit from.

“Madelyn is a passionate and accomplished young woman,” said Dawn Marie Johnson, Director of Leadership & Culture for SDAN. “Her drive and tenacity are exhilarating and I’m excited to see her shine in this role as we work together to launch the Youth Opportunity Project and lay the groundwork for what will become an annual opportunity for teens across the state.”

Teens joining Madeyln as the inaugural Youth Opportunity Project Council include:


  • Shaylee Arrendondo, Sioux Falls
  • Amy Barillas, Sioux Falls
  • Olivia Kolbrek, Sioux Falls
  • Caleb Messhesha, Sioux Falls
  • Yusuf Mire, Sioux Falls
  • Lily Pressler, Watertown
  • Liza Purdy, Summit
  • Jaxon Sheff, Montrose
  • Ella Weber, Montrose

The South Dakota Afterschool Network works to better our state and its communities by connecting providers, parents and policymakers with proven tools and resources to increase the quality of and access to out-of-school time programming for K-12 children and youth.

Afterschool is a lifeline that keeps youth safe, helps kids learn and grow, and provides parents the ability to work without worry. While South Dakota is home to more than 300 afterschool programs, the demand for programs exceeds available spaces. In fact, 1 in 3 South Dakota children (34 percent) who are not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if it were available. That’s more than 42,000 children who are missing out on opportunities to participate in programming that supports their development academically, socially and economically.

Afterschool can provide valuable opportunities for students to explore STEM, and we are here to help your program succeed in STEM Learning! From webinars and trainings to our signature TMC Trailers that bring turnkey STEM activities to your doorstep, our diverse collection of resources meets you and your students where you are and provides the support you need to deliver quality programming to your students at any age. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network wanted to create a mapping tool to better understand the landscape of afterschool and summer programs available for children and families. From the initial launch of the new mapping tool, we have identified some startling findings.