Pine Ridge Promise Zone | Our Story
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Our Story

About the Pine Ridge Promise Zone

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of 13 designated Promise Zones in the country, and one of only two tribal communities that have received a Promise Zone designation.

Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to:

  • Increase economic activity
  • Improve educational opportunities
  • Leverage private investment
  • Reduce violent crime
  • Enhance public health
  • Address other priorities identified by the community

Through the Promise Zone designation, our community will have the opportunity to work directly with federal, state, and local agencies to give local leaders proven tools to improve the quality of life for the Oglala Lakota Oyate.

Promise Zone Benefits

Working Groups

To identify and formulate strategies based on our local priorities and needs, the work of the Promise Zone is focused in three working groups: Land and Built Environment, Capacity Building, and Youth Opportunity. These working groups are designed to pair federal government agencies with local tribal partners that have demonstrated a commitment to results in order to address multiple community revitalization challenges in a collaborative. Under each Working Groups are sub-groups working on identifying specific priorities and projects to enhance the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the PRPZ.

Americorps Vista

Through the Pine Ridge Promise Zone initiative, we will have the opportunity to engage eight AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members to work on specific strategies to reduce poverty and build the capacity of our initiative. VISTA members focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. VISTAs develop programs to meet a need, write grants, and recruit and train volunteers.

The VISTAs working within the Pine Ridge Promise Zone initiative will be placed in various partnering organizations, tribal programs, or chartered organizations throughout the reservation.

Local Federal Liaison

As a benefit of our Promise Zone designation, we will receive federal staff on the ground to help implement our goals. A local federal liaison has been assigned to Pine Ridge by USDA to help tribal partners navigate federal programs and assist in communicating Pine Ridge Promise Zone strategies and priorities to federal partners.

Grant Preference Points

Organizations located in Promise Zones applying for certain federal grants will receive additional points on their application. Promise Zone preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance are provided by over 40 participating federal agencies.

History and Timeline

In January 2013, the Obama Administration announced a new federal Promise Zone designation program to help 20 high-poverty communities across the nation gain new tools and resources to tap into grant monies and other resources to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities and reduce violent crime.

In 2014, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribal, reservation nonprofits, and local business owners identified that a Promise Zone designation could have great benefit for the entire reservation. After contact with tribal leadership, Thunder Valley agreed to take on the task of developing an application to win a Promise Zone designation for the entire reservation.

In April 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had won the only tribal Promise Zone designation in the second round of winners. There are currently only two tribal nations that have been designated as Promise Zones.

The designation, which will last for 10 years, will allow tribal programs, reservation businesses, non-profits, schools and tribal leadership in the Promise Zone the ability to secure special help in crafting applications for existing federal grants and other resources; as well as, additional points for certain competitive federal grant programs, and targeted technical assistance from federal agencies.