Billy Ray Blocker, Jr. is passionate about South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux Tribe.
A retired law enforcement officer, he was struck by the increasing number of school dropouts, gang memberships, alcohol and substance abuse cases, and teenage suicides – the latter being 150% higher than the national average – on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The ability for Lakota youth to find employment, start a business, or access the resources needed to pay for college are extremely limited.
Billy decided to change that. To support these young people and develop a sustainable economic infrastructure for employment and growth, Billy (in conjunction with fiscal sponsor ONE Spirit) is establishing a Native American credit union savings program for seven Oglala Sioux teens, 14-17 years old.
After completing financial training, each teen will receive six months of minimum deposits ($25 per month) into a Youth Individual Development Account (IDA) at Lakota Funds in Kyle, South Dakota. Lakota Funds will then match $3 for every $1 up to $2,160, to be used for asset-specific purchases like paying for college, starting a business, or buying a home.
Billy hopes that a successful implementation of this project will be the impetus for collaboration between individuals (separately or through crowdfunding), corporations, and/or foundations for additional teen sponsorships via Lakota Funds, as each dollar invested in the Pine Ridge Reservation community means $4 going out to individual Lakota teens with a message of hope and support!