The Cheyenne River Youth Project® was founded in January 1988 to address the community’s need for more services that support struggling children and their families. Originally housed in a defunct bar on Eagle Butte’s Main Street, the organization created a safe place for children to come after school; it offered activities such as arts and crafts, intramural sports and volunteer mentorship,and it provided a healthy meal and snack each day. The volunteer-run youth center, known affectionately as “The Main,” quickly became a vital part of the Cheyenne River community. Despite its small size, and few resources for programming, the center was filled to capacity each day.
The grassroots, nonprofit youth project has come a long way since that modest beginning. In 1997, CRYP built a new youth center that would be able to support continued growth. The new Main opened its doors in May 1999, and it features a recreation room, library, family room, commercial-grade kitchen, office space, and residential quarters for long-term volunteers.
CRYP continued to expand. In 2004, with input from Cheyenne River’s young people, it began work a dedicated facility for ages 13-18. Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) opened in 2006 and is a tremendous achievement for CRYP, with more than 25,000 square feet of space and many exciting new opportunities. The teen center has a full-size gymnasium, computer lab, dance and art studios, library, and private apartment for long-term volunteers. It also is home to the Keya (Turtle) Cafe and Keya Gift Shop, as well as the Family Services program, the innovative Teen Internship program and the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute.
Executive Director Julie Garreau often says that CRYP is “the little nonprofit that did.” It continues to approach its programming and services in a creative, resourceful way — learn more in our Programs and Family Services sections!