Rapid City organizations receive federal funding to continue city-wide outreach efforts
RAPID CITY, S.D. – As part of a nationwide program, the U.S. Department of Justice has selected Rapid City as one of several locations across the country to receive grant funding to prevent crime and community violence.
From a $100 million fund, Rapid City received $2 million to further fund local community outreach programs in the form of a Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative Grant. The goal: to support the city’s ongoing efforts to strengthen communities and reduce crime and other serious issues through more holistic methods. Community and city leaders gathered at city hall to make the announcement on Monday.
“I think this grant aids us in doing what we have been doing without this level of funding for some time,” Mayor Steve Allender said. “This will help us focus on some social issues that are leading to violence, and it will help us focus on violence leading to social issues. And that, overall, that is a win.”
According to Mayor Allender, Rapid City was chosen based on previous implementation of programs centered around community involvement. The funding will create six new positions within Wambli Ska, Journey On, and the Red Ribbon Skirt Society devoted to youth outreach.
Since last December alone, Journey On has fielded more than 7,000 calls that would have normally been handled by law enforcement. In this time, nearly 10,000 individuals had received help from their outreach team.
In a 10-year study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 85 percent of nearly 2,000 missing Native American children were reported as runaways. The study also revealed a common factor of the disappearances was related to abuse. By having people dedicated to and specializing in mentoring and working with children, groups like the Red Ribbon Skirt Society see this as a huge advantage to the community.
“We would be able to have somebody that can be ‘boots on the ground, moccasins on the ground’ in each one of those entities that is going to be very specific to doing some intervention with those individuals,” Red Ribbon Skirt Society Founder Lily Mendoza said. “Maybe they are lacking in their home the comfort from a grandmother, from a grandfather, from a really good auntie that can help them. And we can help them seek those individuals and do it in a good way, and do it in a respectful way with the families.”
With the government recognition, Mayor Allender sees this as confirmation that the city is on a path of success.
“This is another positive step. It is a positive step and it is an affirmation from the federal government that something right is going on in Rapid City,” he explained. “We are going to keep doing this work try to make sure Rapid City is a better place.