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Head Start Plans New Rapid City Building

Courtesy Rural America Initiatives

Rapid City’s Head Start program has plans for building a multi-million dollar facility for the hundreds of Native American families it serves in the area. The ultimate goal of the facility is to have a better place for future generations to learn and grow.

Bruce Long Fox is executive director of Rural America Initiatives’ Rapid City office. The non-profit is responsible for the Head Start and Early Head Start centers in the West River town, and similar locations on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation.

Long Fox says the buildings Head Start currently occupies are more than 20 years old and long overdue for an upgrade.

“When you start trying to do repairs you notice that the windows are out of square, and the doors are out of square,” Long Fox explains. “It’s not that we don’t have a place now, it’s that they’re just getting very old and expensive to repair and expensive to heat.” The new location will consolidate its services into one building, making it easier for parents with children attending both Head Start programs.  

Credit Courtesy Rural America Initiatives
Bruce Long Fox, executive director of Rural America Initiatives.

Besides classroom space, the $6 million, 28,000 square-foot facility will have a kitchen, administrative offices and meeting rooms along with outdoor teaching areas and a garden.

Long Fox tells nay-sayers there’s a simple reason for spending money when the economy is still in flux. 

“We’re taught as Native Americans to look seven generations ahead,” says Long Fox. “And, so, we’re not just looking at today….we’re looking at the lives of these kids. And there are a lot of needs out there…and I understand that. But education has always been our salvation.”

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has pledged to match up to $250,000 for donations raised toward the new Head Start building by December 18. The rest of the required financing will come from a federal Head Start grant and monies raised through local, regional and national fund drives over the next 5 years.