Sign me up for updates. Signup now

You are here

Helping Children

Your gift provides after-school enrichment activities, quality childcare, preschool opportunities, and volunteer mentors to at-risk youth. Below are all of the programs Sioux Empire United Way funds that help children.


Avera McKennan’s Success by 6 Parenting with Success programming includes resource booklets and temperament programming. The resource booklets are provided to all mothers after birth and include parenting information and local resources. Last year, 2,432 booklets were distributed. Temperament programming utilizes a thorough questionnaire provided to parents when their child is 15 months of age. The results help parents understand the temperament of their child and how to parent based on that. Last year, 292 families completed questionnaires.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire’s Early Childhood Education program provides quality childcare and education programs for young children. Last year, 544 children received quality child care that includes early childhood education curriculum.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire’s Club Programming supports youth and families by giving students a safe, supervised, engaging place to spend time. The program focuses on five core areas: the arts, education and career development, health and life skills, character and leadership skills, and sports and recreation. Last year, 396 students participated in the programming. An analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high-quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior, and coursework. Students participating in a high-quality afterschool program went to school more often, behaved better, received better grades, and did better on tests compared to non-participating students.

Challenge Day provides area middle and high school students with a one-day program that focuses on empathy skill building. Last year, Challenge Days happened in 14 different schools across the Sioux Empire. Full day programs were attended by 701 students and 2,834 students participated in a shorter assembly. Students completed surveys after the experience and agreed with the statement “After participating in Challenge Day I am more aware of the effects of teasing,” an average of 4.09 on a scale of 1 to 5. One school district’s counselor noted, “Challenge Day continues to positively impact our school by allowing students to connect with each other, as well as the adults in the room, in ways they have never done before. This opens up communication and a level of understanding that doesn’t exist prior to Challenge Day.”

Character on Track provides an educational framework for teaching trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Last year, 96 assemblies were held.

Children’s Connection, a program of Family Connection provides weekly support groups, family events, and more to children whose parent or close family member has been incarcerated. Last year, 293 students participated in the weekly groups at 11 local elementary and middle schools.

Connecting Kids creates the opportunity for children in grades K-8 to take part in an activity for a free or reduced rate. Last year, 658 used the Connecting Kids certificate. Children have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sports, camps, classes, and fine art activities through 25 different partner organizations. A survey of parents found that 98% of respondents would not have been able to participate in activities without Connecting Kids.

Delta Dental of SD’s Mobile Dental Program provides restorative and preventive dental care to underserved children. Last year, 288 local youth were screened, with 67 having their first dental visit. The Oral Health in America report established the link between dental disease and absenteeism and reduced learning in children as well as the link between dental disease and overall health and development.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program provides free books to children in the mail until age 5. Over 11,188 children receive books each month. One study reports children read to one hour per day enter school with a vocabulary 3 times larger than students only read to 30 hours during their first 5 years.

EmBe’s Aquatics program offers swimming lessons, specialty classes, and open swim opportunities. Last year, 1,411 individuals took part in swimming lessons.

EmBe’s Childcare program serves children ages 4 weeks to 5 years. Last year, an average of 323 children attended the centers daily.

EmBe’s Girls on the Run/Heart & Sole is a character development and empowerment program for girls in grades 3rd – 5th and 6th – 8th that uses non-competitive running and training to achieve the goal of participation in a 5K run/walk. Last year, 867 girls participated in Girls on the Run or Heart & Sole at 46 different schools in the Sioux Empire.

EmBe’s Let Me Run is a seven-week after school program whose mission is to inspire boys through the power of running, to be courageous enough to be themselves, to build healthy relationships, and to live an active lifestyle. Last year, 86 boys participated at 8 different schools.

EmBe’s Youth Recreation programming provides a variety of youth activities for children. Activities include: volleyball, babysitting camp, Camp CEO, Camp ChangeMaker, youth taekwondo, and First Lego league. Last year, 939 youth participated in volleyball clinics/leagues, 434 youth participated in First Lego League, and 427 in the other youth camps and classes.

Harmony South Dakota is a free after-school music program that provides opportunities for children ages 6 and up to participate in string orchestra, percussion ensembles, musicianship classes, and private instrumental lessons. Last year, 60 participants spent 523 hours in instruction through the program.

Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership’s Sioux Falls Center provides high quality early childhood development services to low-income and special needs children. Last year, 98 children were enrolled in the program while their parents either worked or attended school.

KIDSTOP provides a free after school and summer recreation program for students in grades K-8. Last year an average of 50 children and 8 middle-schoolers attended daily. Eighty-nine per cent of regularly attending participants make progress on a Power of Asset Building chart, a tool to track student behavior and academic progress, which leads to academic success.

Lutheran Social Services’ After-School and Summer Programs emphasize hands-on activities to keep children engaged in learning outside of school hours. Last year, 134 children participated in afterschool and summer programs, with an average daily attendance of 51 children. Of those children, 114 came from low-income families, allowing them to participate in quality programs even if their family cannot afford to pay the full cost of attending.

Lutheran Social Services’ Every Day Heroes Mentor Program provides elementary and middle school students with positive adult role models at their schools. Last year, 1,414 volunteer mentors provided 43,834 hours of service at 11 public school districts in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. National research shows that strong relationships between mentors and students promote long-term positive outcomes that include achievement, a stronger sense of self-worth, improved relationships with parents, and decreased drug and alcohol use.

Lutheran Social Services’ Here4Youth provides out of school time care for youth with special needs and their siblings. Last year, they served 69 youth during out of school hours.

Lutheran Social Services’ USucceed program provides at-risk high school students with a long-term volunteer mentor to encourage and support high school graduation. Last year, 183 mentors and students were matched. Of those, 97% of the students progressed to the next grade level. One study found that at-risk young people who had mentors were more likely to set goals for higher education and were more likely to attend college than non-mentored peers.

Multi-Cultural Center’s After School and Out of School Programs serves 692 students with after school and summer programming last year. Services provided include reading assistance, math help, karate, and programs to recognize different cultures.

Ready to Start provides a five-week program for children who may not have had access to pre-kindergarten services, or who may have demonstrated a need for additional services prior to their first day of school. Last year the program served 176 children in Canton, Harrisburg, McCook Central, Lennox, Sioux Falls, and Tea Area School Districts. Participants have an average gain of 35% in math skills, 25% in reading skills, and 22% in supportive skills.

Sanford Children’s CHILD Services’ Success by 6 Watch Me Grow Help Me Grow programming includes parent resource material at birth, child and parent resources online, home visits, and temperament programming. Last year, 2,814 packets were distributed to new parents at birth, 117 new parents were visited in their homes by child development professionals, and 209 parents participated in temperament services.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Juvenile Diversion programs are alternatives to formal court proceedings. Last year, 570 teens participated in Teen Court and 165 teens participated in Community Accountability Boards. Combined, the teens completed 20,602 hours of community service.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Scouting program benefits young people by emphasizing family, community, and character education. Last year 3,937 registered Scouts (ages 1 through 20) participated in 472,440 hours of programming and contributed 47,401 hours in community service. Adults who were Scouts for five years are more likely than those who have never been Scouts to graduate high school, earn college degrees, and own their own homes.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Scoutreach works to ensure that all low-income, culturally diverse, and hard-to-serve youth have the opportunity to experience Scouting. The program provides Scout leaders and facilitators for youth in traditional Cub Scout Packs. Last year, 821 youth participated in Scouting opportunities.

Sioux Empire Smiles is a free one-day comprehensive dental clinic for children 18 and under. Last year 156 patients were provided with dental screenings, fillings, extractions, cleanings, and other dental care. Of those patients, 19 were identified as needing extensive treatment beyond the one-day clinic. Community partnerships provided these additional patients with the proper operating room setting needed to provide the dental care.

Sioux Falls Family YMCA’s Middle School After School program provides a variety of activities to 1,137 students at five middle schools last year. Of those students, 76% feel that the program has helped them become a better person.

Sioux Falls Hope Coalition provides additional pre-kindergarten slots to at-risk children through a collaboration of churches, businesses, and non-profits. During the 18-19 school year, 89 students received an early childhood education through the scholarship partnerships.

Preschool Opportunity Program, administered through Sioux Falls School District, provides a high quality pre-kindergarten experience for 68 children whose families have socio-economic challenges last year. Longitudinal research from the High/Scope Research studies show that quality early childhood education has long-term benefits for children that include: fewer failing grades, higher graduation rates, decreased involvement in social services as adults, and higher monthly earnings as adults.

Sioux Falls School District’s School Home Liaison and Refugee and Immigrant Academic Achievement Resources helps refugee and immigrant families understand the American educations system. Last year, 2,398 students and their families were served. When it came time for conferences, 100% of Immersion Center parents attended and student participants maintained a 96% attendance rate at school on average.

United Day Care provides quality care for children ages 2-10. Last year, 131 children were provided care.

The USD Scottish Rite Children’s Clinic for Speech & Language Disorders provides a full array of clinical services related to speech, language and literacy. Last year, 1,436 children utilized services through the program.

Volunteers of America, Dakota’s Axis 180 provides housing, case management, life skills, employment education assistance, and aftercare services for youth ages 16-21 to help them transition from homelessness to independence. Last year, 33 youth were served by the program. Of those served, 75% worked towards their high school diploma or GED.

Volunteers of America, Dakota’s Kidz Count program provides afterschool and summer care services to students ages 5-12 who are enrolled at Terry Redlin Elementary. The program provides at least 30 minutes of physical activity, a full afternoon meal, homework assistance, and other activities. Last year, 36 students participated in the program.

Volunteers of America, Dakotas’ Childcare program provided 200 children with quality care last year.

Volunteers of America, Dakotas’ Runaway and Homeless Youth Services assists runaway and homeless youth and young adults. Services include 24/7 crisis intervention for youth and families, on-street outreach, case management, and referrals for emergency shelter. Last year, 235 individuals who were runaways, homeless youth, or families in crisis were provided assistance.

Volunteers of America, Dakotas’ Youth Center is a drop-in center that offers educational, artistic, musical, cultural, and creative opportunities for youth ages 7 to 20 years. The center served about 285 youth last year.