How the Prosperity Initiative is helping students succeed

The Prosperity Initiative is changing people's lives for the better, with intense mentoring.

12.2 percent of Pennington County lives in poverty, according to the Prosperity Initiative. That’s where the Prosperity Initiative steps in to help, because poverty is a hard cycle to break.  

Heidi Gibson, a single mom who tried for years to attain a G.E.D. found hope. She realized that she has a learning disability, then got a tutor. Her prosperity coach helped her to get the school mentoring that she needed and purchased her a new laptop. Heidi recently graduated with a G.E.D – as she knew the value in her education.


Gibson says, “Better myself and better my daughter, show her that even if bad stuff happens in your life, you can make everything meet and go forward. She was my inspiration actually to go back so I could show her that – ‘hey I went back to school even though things are hard’.”

Another student, Jeremy Walker is in his last semester at Western Dakota Tech on a Build Dakota Scholarship. He was taking advantage of the services at the Adult Career Learning Center, receiving some help when he heard about the Prosperity Initiate. He then received counseling services for stress and clothes for school. They also helped when his father passed away last spring and he was ready to give up.

Walker says, “It was pretty hard on me. I was ready to give up on everything and quit college go back home and just give up. And I talked to Hannah and them at the Prosperity Initiative and they kind of picked my spirits up and Stephenie also helped and here I am back on the straight path. I promised him I’d graduate, so when he passed away he became more focused. “

Jeremy will graduate in May with Automotive Tech certification  – following in his dad’s footsteps – and dreams to someday own his own shop with his brother.  

“It really worked out. I mean they’ve been there when I needed somebody. Without him I definitely wouldn’t still be in college, I would’ve gave up probably in the first semester. I’m so grateful for them they’ve been the voice that is help keep me going,” says Walker.

Stephenie Ritterberg with the Career Learning Center says it’s very gratifying to see the students succeed with the intense mentoring of the Prosperity Initiative.

Ritterberg says, “I love to watch people bloom and blossom and I like to see some sliver of hope kind of ignite in them, where they know that they can be really successful and awesome at something. And then it’s really fulfilling to see them move forward and actually do that.”

Categories: Local News