GRANT 21:

Funding the Future of Endangered Lakota Youth

07/08/2013

Billy Ray Blocker, Jr. is doing all he can to support the Lakota youth. We're here to help him develop a sustainable economic infrastructure for employment and growth.

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!

To learn more about the Lakota Indians and ONE Spirit’s Youth Programs, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter channels. Have an awesome idea of your own? We want to hear about it! Apply!

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Hamner and ONE Spirit