Over the past 3 years the Cheyenne River Youth Project has provided instruction, mentorship, workshops, certifications, real-life job experience and wages to teenaged tribal members.
Julie Garreau is the project’s executive director. She says the real goal is for young people to gain valuable skills that will serve them well all their lives as well as having a lasting impact on the Cheyenne River reservation’s economy.
“They receive upon completion of their internship curriculum a stipend which comes to about $500,” Garreau explains. “ Some of the kids have gone on to buy lawn mowers or musical equipment or done other things that maybe help them grow. Some of them will help the families. Some of them will buy their school clothes. Some of them will spend it on whatever they want to spend it on…but it’s their money…so that’s fine. What I love are the kids who are…you know…they’re taking it so that they’re kind of using the money and it takes them a little bit further. I like that.”
For example, notes Garreau, the teen who used his stipend to buy a lawn mower and started providing local lawn-care services.
Three-hundred fifty-two Cheyenne River Sioux teens have graduated the internship program since its inception in 2014.
Julie Garreau says she feels good about being able to provide the teens with money for the work they’ve done in the program as well as being able to teach them about being responsible in how the spend it.
Cheyenne River Youth Project