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"We have reached our capacity, we have patched and re-patched too many times, and the buildings are tired. In order to continue to serve the growing needs of our community, and keep our children safe, a new facility is essential."

-Bruce Long Fox 

Executive Director, Rural America Initiatives


Jeff Bridges.webp


the History of our Successful Campaign



RAI’s Head Start programs began in 1991, in trailer modular buildings intended to last 10-12 years. These buildings exceeded their intended lifespan by a dozen years.


We serve more Head Start families than ever before. Our increased capacity made it necessary to rent additional space at a cost of thousands of dollars per year. The modular buildings were energy inefficient and utility bills for our three sites were shockingly high.


As Rapid City's population continues to grow, with the rate of growth for the Native population more than double that of the non-Native population, the demand for our services only increases.


Our research indicated that in order to best meet our current responsibilities, accommodate anticipated growth, serve the expanding needs of our community, and protect our Head Start accreditation, a new facility was required.




RAI has been the most effective service provider for Rapid City's neediest families for almost thirty years. In our years of service we have been project-focused and until the new building capital campaign now had not had a need to develop a network of financial support. 


Only 1% of our funding comes from local sources (through United Way of the Black Hills).


To launch the campaign the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community  generously awarded Rural America Initiatives $250,000 for the capital campaign, with the stipulation that it must be matched by other contributions by December 18, 2014. We met their challenge and our campaign began. 


In order to raise the funds necessary for a new facility, we reached out to our community and others in the region and nation who share our mission to improve the lives of Native children and their families.

The community responded with enthusiasm! We  were granted a $2 million gift from the Rapid City Vision Fund, $1 million from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, as well as gifts from many individuals, businesses and organizations. 

In December, 2016 an anonymous donor gave us a $500,000 challenge grant to be met over 3 years. For every dollar we raised, the donor contributed $.50. 

We broke ground in October 2017. Students and staff  moved in in January 2019, and held a grand opening and public "thank you" on on Valentine's Day. 

At the end of 2017 we had raised about $5 million of the $7.2 million project. 

This year we plan to launch a new campaign to retire our mortgage, enclose our bus barn, and add four  new classrooms to our building. 

Former Head Start and
Early Head Start facilities

Rural America Initiatives  Received $1,000,000 Grant from the 

John T. Vucurevich Foundation To Build an Early Childhood 

Education and Community Center



We conducted a feasibility study in the spring of 2015 to gage our capacity to raise money in the Rapid City Community. We were encouraged that our campaign will be successful. 

We recruited four campaign co-chairs and a steering committee,  chose an architect and a construction manager at risk.  With the  help of our  community and many supporters, the dream became reality!  



Rapid City Awarded Rural America Initiatives $2,000,000 in Vision Funds for the New Building!

Rural America Initiatives was thrilled, humbled and proud to be the recipient of a $2,000,000 gift from the Rapid City's Vision Fund. This gift brought    us to nearly half of our goal, and gave  us tremendous momentum moving forward.


Thank you citizens of Rapid City for this vote of confidence in us, the work that we do, and our value to the community.


We are so grateful!

Rural America Initiatives received a $1,000,000 grant from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation for their capital campaign.


“The John T. Vucurevich Foundation has been such a generous community partner and advocate for at-risk children and families like ours and we are so grateful for their vote of confidence in our work, and for their support. We could not realize this vision without their support, and we are deeply thankful” said RAI’s Executive Director Bruce Long Fox.


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