Prosperity Initiative wins COABE Outstanding Workplace of the Year Award

The Prosperity Initiative aspires to break the cycle of poverty in the community and to help people achieve prosperity,


The Prosperity Initiative was a vision created by the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, the organization provides resources to the entire family through community collaboration.

The Prosperity Initiative is committed to making the Rapid City community “poverty informed”- in three ways. The first is public education, by offering training to area schools, businesses, and agencies. They are showing what people who live in poverty go through on a daily basis, the public learns what they can do to help.

Tracy Palecek, Prosperity Initiative Program Director, says, “Every agency and business in our community intersects with poverty every single day. Knowing that there’s people in our community that are in need and being able to offer, that targeted help, to work both individually with those clients encouraging them and mentoring and then work on the systems changes. How can we change these big systems, how can we change our educational system, our school system, and medical facilities, our legal systems so that we can actually help people leave the crisis of poverty – those are our goals.”

The second is the prosperity coaches network. They train and certify coaches that meet monthly to network, learn about resources, and share client updates. Coaches bring their training back to their businesses and agencies to assist in educating others and shape policies to better serve those in need.

The third is the direct service program- working closely with families and individuals who struggle in the crisis of poverty with intense mentoring by connecting people to community services with a focus on housing stability, transportation and childcare. The hope is to then obtain the job, skill, or education necessary to earn a livable wage to provide for their families.

Palecek says, “The most important part of the prosperity initiative is our relationships not only with the clients that is key, but we have to understand them, they have to trust us. They have to know that we care about them and their journey. And it also involves our relationships with our community partners, it’s our prosperity coaches, it’s people in the community, it’s our donors, it’s the staff at C.L.C.  We network out and reach out – we become that voice for them and we seek out resources in our community on their behalf. That’s a big component of our program.”

Now in it’s fourth year, the group is getting acknowledged for their work. The Career Learning Center nominate them for the (COABE) award, which stands for Coalition on Adult Basic Education. Out of hundreds of applications, they received the Outstanding Workplace of the Year.

Stephenie Ritterberger, Adult Education Coordinator with Career Leaning Center of the Black Hills, says, “The award is all about creating workplaces for students who are transitioning from GED programs into the workforce … and I know that my clients and my students that are coming in struggle with more things on their plate… some have undiagnosed learning disabilities. They might have learning disabilities already and they were unsuccessful in traditional education setting and so they are coming in with a lot of anxiety and angst about being here. When we partner that goes away, they all the sudden have people in their corner pushing them to be successful and really assisting them with really basic things, so that they don’t feel overwhelmed and that they keep moving forward.”

Categories: Local News