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REDCO Announces Launch of Scholars and Leaders Program to

Strengthen Future Workforce

Mission, SD, November 20, 2017 – The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) recently issued a report to assess the state of the future workforce for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate. The report confirmed troubling high school dropout rates, the need for more students entering college, and that increased resources are needed to ensure high school graduates are better prepared for the workforce and college. Data was gathered from a variety of sources, including test scores and interviews with community stakeholders in the three main school districts that serve the majority of reservation youth: Todd County, White River, and St. Francis Indian School.

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 includes the creation of over a hundred jobs and the need for highly skilled managers. Wizipan Little Elk, REDCO CEO said, “Our Tribe’s constitution calls for us to think seven generations. 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.” He went on to say, “the launch of the REDCO Scholars and Leaders Program will be one of our first steps in this new direction and make youth a priority.”

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 part of the overall goal being to inspire students to continue on to college and pursue 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”, Dr. Edward Valandra, a member of 4Rosebud, said. He went on to say, “Students will see how education promotes self-determination in all life’s spheres: cultural, political, social, environmental, and spiritual”. The program also includes increased efforts for job training and career development.

REDCO’s mission to foster and promote economic development for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate is linked to education, as developing a strong economy requires developing a strong 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. Additionally, many students who are graduating high school and attending a post-secondary school are not graduating within four years, if at all. Low student proficiency in schooling 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 concrete steps that help develop the future workforce through positive changes in the economy and education. In the short term, REDCO will be launching a robust career and internship program for youth and adults. 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. The program is scheduled to be launched in the new year.


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.

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