The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has been awarded a Northwest Area Foundation social enterprise grant that will allow the grassroots, nonprofit youth organization to expand its investment in young people growing up on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation. The grant funding will support CRYP’s two-year “Growing the Next Generation Lakota Workforce” initiative, which incorporates the farm-to-table Keya (Turtle) Cafe, the Keya Gift Shop and the Leading Lady Farmers Market.
“Through our programs and facilities, we want to provide our children with job and life skills that will serve them well as they enter adulthood,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “That’s how we change lives — through classes, workshops, trainings and, perhaps most of all, our internship programs. Thanks to the Northwest Area Foundation, we’ll be able to continue developing our social enterprises here in Eagle Butte, expand our teen internships, and provide even more opportunities to our kids.”
The Northwest Area Foundation supports efforts that lead to good jobs and improve financial capability in low-income communities. This particular grant is intended for organizations, like CRYP, that have significant experience and a proven track record in social enterprise.
CRYP has operated its cafe, gift shop and farmers market for several years, and the enterprises have become beloved mainstays in the Cheyenne River community. With the Northwest Area Foundation’s support, the youth project now will be able to hire a full-time social enterprise manager; expand its internship programs so 44 teen interns can participate in social enterprises and 44 can take part in sustainable agriculture; and develop a CRYP e-commerce website.
According to Garreau, the organization also is looking forward to continuing its work with indigenous culinary professionals; the NWAF grant allows CRYP to contract with a professional Native chef to diversify the Keya Cafe’s menu and incorporate traditional foods. The presence of Native chefs on the CRYP campus serves more than an educational purpose; as the chefs teach Cheyenne River’s youth about traditional Lakota foods and healthy meal planning, they just might also inspire the next generation of Lakota chefs.
Garreau said she and the CRYP staff see tremendous potential in the expansion of the youth project’s social enterprises in the years to come.
“Moving forward, not only will our efforts create larger and more sustainable revenue streams to support our youth programming and family services, we’ll be able to give more kids the tools they need to be successful as adults,” she explained. “And, we’ll be doing it in a way that strengthens the connection they have to their Lakota culture, which we believe is a critical element of holistic wellness and healing in our community.”
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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.