Youth Opportunity Project

Youth Voice Matters

Applications are now open for the 2023 Youth Opportunity Project! 

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.

Sample Schedule for 2023 Youth Opportunity Project:

July 21: Application Deadline

August 4: Groups Participants Announced

September 9: First session (virtual)

September 23/30: Individual Mentoring Sessions (virtual)

October 14: Second session (virtual)

November 18: Third session (virtual)

 December 2/9: Individual Mentoring Sessions (virtual)

December 15: Announcement of youth participating in the Student Panel at Children’s Day at the Capitol

January 24-25: Children’s Day at the Capitol in Pierre

February: Fourth Session (virtual)


Teens in the 2022 participants:

  • 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.