REDCO Announces scholars and leaders program
November 21, 2017
By Vi Waln
MISSION – A new project seeks to inspire high school students, along with young adults, to attend college and pursue business, economic policy and community development as a career path.
According to a press release, the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) recently issued a report to assess the state of the future workforce for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. The purpose of the report was to identify the current state of the workforce over the next 10 years. REDCO’s long term economic plans include the creation of over 100 jobs and the need for highly skilled managers.
“Our Tribe’s constitution calls for us to think 7 generations,” stated Wizipan Little Elk, REDCO CEO. “This report lets us know that we need to be doing more to prepare the next generation of leaders in order to improve peoples’ quality of life and grow our Tribe’s economy. The launch of the REDCO Scholars and Leaders Program will be one of our first steps in this new direction. It will make youth a priority.”
Data was gathered from a variety of sources, including test scores and interviews with community stakeholders in the Todd County, White River and St. Francis Indian School districts. The 3 school districts serve the majority of reservation youth. The report confirmed troubling high school dropout rates, as well as a need for more students completing college degrees. Increased resources are also required to ensure high school graduates are better prepared for both the workforce and college. (See image at bottom of page)
REDCO’s existing internship program has provided 21 paid and for credit internships over the last 3 years. The Scholars and Leaders Program will include high school students, with an overall goal to inspire them to attend college to study business, economic policy and community development as a career path.
“REDCO’s Scholar and Leaders Program is a Lakota-based, experiential approach. It integrates thinking with doing,” stated Dr. Edward Valandra, a member of 4Rosebud. “Students will see how education promotes self-determination in all life’s spheres: cultural, political, social, environmental, and spiritual”.
The program will include job training and career development for students. REDCO’s mission to foster and promote economic development for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate is linked to education. In addition, establishing a strong economy requires a solid education system. Data from the 2015-2016 Smarter Balance assessment indicates that the majority of students across the reservation are not proficient in English and math, areas that are necessary for academic success.
Also, many students who are graduating from high school and attending post-secondary institutions are not attaining a college degree within 4 years, if at all. Low student proficiency in school is tied to the effects of trauma on students that have not been addressed and is not indicative of students’ ability to achieve.
REDCO remains committed to taking concrete steps to help develop the future workforce through positive changes in the economy and education. A robust career and internship program for youth, as well as adults, will be launched early in 2018. The Scholars and Leaders program will provide participants with career training, as well as professional development of social skills, that are necessary in the workplace.
REDCO is a chartered corporation owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and managed by an independent Board of Directors for the purpose of generating revenue for the Tribe and promoting economic development. Through business management and development, policy development, and community development, REDCO works to create employment, strengthen the local economy, and provide self-sufficiency for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. For more information please call (605) 856-8400.