On a VERY cold January 12th, our 5th cohort of Emerging Leaders, along with 110 other community members, celebrated their graduation. The John T. Vucurevich Foundation Emerging Leaders program empowers participants to discover their role in addressing community issues and build the lasting, cross-sector relationships needed for systems change. The Emerging Leaders experience culminated with each learning lab group “pitching” hypothetical solutions to real issues facing the Rapid City community. These groups laid the groundwork for our community to continue their momentum at Graduation.

Think you know a way to make any or all of the following ideas a reality on a small or large scale? Let us know! We all play a part in being the change we want to see in our community. Our communications director Callie Tysdal will be happy to connect you to one or more of the learning labs, many of whom are eager to play a part in making their visions a reality.

Community Storytellers: The Cliff Effect

Community Issue: The community is unaware of how the cliff effect (the sudden and often unexpected decrease in public benefits that can occur with a small increase in earnings) impacts individuals and families in Rapid City.

Idea: Create a Cliff-Effect Task Force to build and maintain relationships with individuals who can provide stories of the lived experience of the Cliff Effect.

Team: Kara Nesbitt, Sunni Toczek, Jordan Reed, Leslie Hill, Savannah Youngman.

Conquering the Cliff Effect for Businesses

Community Issues: The Cliff Effect (the sudden and often unexpected decrease in public benefits that can occur with a small increase in earnings) impacts local businesses and their ability to retain staff.

Idea: Establish a Community-Informed Business Leadership Program where cohort members attend existing community trainings (like our JTVF Poverty 101 and Poverty Escape Room) and are paired with a think-partner to better support employees facing the Cliff Effect.

Team: Bryan Mitchell, Ashleigh Young, Kayleigh Johnson, Amanda Prines, Abby Sharp Audrea Amstutz, Erin Grant

Support for Unregistered Child Care Providers

Community Issue: Child care providers of all types lack essential support and resources to remain open and stable in our community.

Idea: Create a supportive network for formal and informal child care providers. This network would provide connections to mentorship, incentives, networking, and resources to foster stability.

Team: Joanna Wiseman, Caitlin Senesac, Amber Tillberg, Sarah Glynn, Bobbie Koch Andrew Ley, Kendra Magelky

Rapid City Public Transportation Escape Room

Community Issue: Community decision makers do not rely on the available public transportation system, so many do not understand the important role Rapid Transit plays in our community.

Idea: Design a public transportation escape room to build awareness of and empathy for obstacles faced by our community members that rely on public transportation. This escape room would be aimed at city and business leadership.

Team: Chris Erickson, Maryann Leanna, Krystal Bresnahan, Samantha Sauer, Vikki Swallow, John Perkins

Coalition to Address Truancy

Community Issue: The increasing rate of truancy in the Rapid City Area School District is exacerbated by the lack of cohesive collaboration in community response.

Idea: Establish the Coalition to Address Truancy. The group would collaborate on solutions, offers training and support and builds relationships with the Rapid City community to connect students and their families the resources they need to improve attendance.

Team: Brian Hill, Jillian Smith, Whitney Bischoff, Emily Hamling, Hannah Furchner, Julia Kelly, Hanna Glissendorf

About Emerging Leaders

This program lasts 12 months, includes a $1,000 stipend for participants, and the following commitments:

    • 1 Cohort Retreat to establish relationships with fellow cohort members and learn about the John T. Vucurevich Foundation.
    • 3 Cohort Sessions to build foundational knowledge in becoming poverty-informed, trauma-informed, and Lakota culture and history informed leaders and to showcase why these perspectives are important for anyone making decisions in our community.
    • 1 Yearlong Learning Lab experience to design a hypothetical project as a way to explore and understand real issues in our community.
    • 1 Graduation to celebrate the end of the program and share learning lab insights as a project pitch.

We are taking the next few months to brainstorm our 6th cohort plans. Stay in the loop by joining our newsletter list for updates.

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