For many years, CRYP and Alexandria-based Running Strong for American Indian Youth® have worked together to provide valuable programs and services on the remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. We’d like to take this opportunity to recognize Running Strong as our December Partner of the Month.
Each year, this partnership with Running Strong successfully serves our local community through CRYP’s Heat Assistance program; scholarships to assist groups with renting facilities at CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus; a food grant; a variety of in-kind donations; and important youth-programming support.
The Heat Assistance Program, which takes place each February and March, assists local families with their propane and electric bills or with their firewood purchases. Through this program, Cheyenne River families may request matching funds up to $100 to help cover their fuel costs when they most need it. CRYP processes the requests and works with local providers to ensure that each family receives assistance as soon as possible. All a family member needs to apply for the matching funds is a $25 minimum contribution and an annual membership in CRYP’s Family Services. During the 2013-14 fiscal year, thanks to $20,000 in grant funding from Running Strong, CRYP was able to provide matching funds to 1,318 individuals in 216 families — 795 of those individuals were children.
Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, advised that CRYP wouldn’t be able to offer such critical services as heat matching and home improvements without Running Strong’s support.
“The Running Strong grants allow us to offer this programs year after year, and we’re deeply grateful,” she said. “Matching grants can mean the difference between staying warm and freezing during a brutally cold South Dakota winter.”
To further support Family Services this past fiscal year, Running Strong provided more than $125,000 in in-kind donations. These items included sheets, blankets and other bedding; winter clothes and shoes; diapers; hygiene items; laundry detergent; fully loaded elementary-school kits for the annual School Supplies Drive; and toys for the annual Christmas Toy Drive and other special distributions.
Outside of Family Services, Running Strong grants also support rental scholarships to cover fees for using CRYP facilities. As Garreau observed, in remote north-central South Dakota, facilities for large-scale group meetings, special events, workshops, seminars and sports camps are in short supply. That’s why CRYP makes its state-of-the-art, 26,000-square-foot Cokata Wiconi teen center available to other organizations.
The youth organization relies on rental fees to help support its ongoing programming, services and day-to-day operations, Garreau said staff members also recognize that other community groups, particularly not-for-profits, might not have room in their budgets for such fees. Enter Running Strong — in the last fiscal year, its $15,000 scholarship fund has allowed the grassroots, not-for-profit youth project to accommodate a variety of local groups who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to conduct their classes, camps and special events.
“Thanks to the Running Strong scholarships, we rented our facilities to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Headstart program once for its powwow and 32 times for recess during inclement weather,” Garreau said. “We also welcomed a large basketball tournament hosted by ICWA, and the Mni ‘Water Is Life’ presentation.”
Other events included the Word Carrier Trading Post’s book fairs, the Canli Coalition’s anti-smoking presentations, Girls Traveling Basketball Team practices, the Soiled Hands Society membership drive, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte cheerleading practices, and Mitzis Ballet practices.
Running Strong’s food grant supports CRYP’s ongoing efforts to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks and meals at the Cokata Wiconi teen center, and it has provided funds for food purchases through Lakota Thrifty Mart in Eagle Butte and the food bank in Pierre.
“Once again, we’re deeply grateful to Running Strong for helping us meet so many needs in our community,” Garreau said. “With their assistance, we’re better able to support our families and our children, and we’re looking forward to continuing all of these programs in the new fiscal year!”
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.