When the Covid-19 pandemic erupted this past March, the grassroots, nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project never shut down. Hundreds of children and families on South Dakota's remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation rely on us to be here for them, as we have been for more than 30 years. Instead, we got creative, and we shifted gears quickly to focus on what we could do:
• Providing daily sack meals for youth, with more than 5,000 individual meals distributed from March to August
• Offering takeout service at the Keya (Turtle) Cafe
• Planting the 3-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden, and harvesting nearly 10,000 pounds of produce by September
• Connecting families with food, diapers, clothing, school supplies and other necessary household items through curbside Family Services distributions
• Taking the award-winning, annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam online, and broadcasting live from eight cities nationwide over four action-packed days
• Adding a high-speed Internet line; sourcing plenty of Chromebooks, masks, and hand sanitizer; recruiting local and remote instructors; and transforming our full-size gymnasium into a socially distant learning center for classes, workshops, art camps, and internship trainings
• Expanding our online gift shop (one of our three social enterprises) to offer more merchandise and a better user experience
The Seattle-based Vadon Foundation has offered a $20,000 matching grant to provide critical Covid-19 relief funds that will allow us to continue these programs through the winter and spring months. CRYP seeks to raise the necessary matching funds by Dec. 31, 2020.
“CRYP is in many ways an ideal candidate for partnership. (Executive Director) Julie Garreau is a proactive and enterprising leader who has grown the organization from a very small program to one that is a national model. CRYP hasn’t been afraid to try new and innovative programming, even when it seems risky. And, it is based and grounded in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe community.
"Rather than wait for someone else to react (when the pandemic hit), they just got things done. It makes it very easy to support an organization when you know they are active problem-solvers and don’t need months to formulate a plan in crisis. We are very happy and proud to support CRYP.”
— Dave LaSarte-Meeks, Executive Director, Vadon Foundation