Economic Development Initiative

The economic realities on the Pine Ridge Reservation are sobering.

  • 89 percent of residents are unemployed.
  • The average per capita income is only $9,136 a year.
  • And 6 out of 10 children live in poverty.

But through education and economic opportunity, together we can create a new reality. Red Cloud’s Economic Development Initiative (EDI) is creating a foundation for transformational economic growth. By providing our students with a comprehensive business curriculum and offering advanced training in entrepreneurship, we are empowering them to become the next generation of Lakota business leaders.

Launched in 2012, our EDI gives Red Cloud students the knowledge, tools, and support necessary to  develop their own business plans or even launch their own start-up companies. 

  • Comprehensive Business Curriculum: Through advanced business coursework in Accounting, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, the EDI curriculum provides students with new knowledge and skills in business development, innovation, management, and leadership. Students gain the entrepreneurial skills and confidence to turn ideas into business plans—and business plans into viable local enterprises. 
  • 7 Gen Business Center: Through the 7 Gen Business Center, Red Cloud students can access customized, one-on-one business development mentoring right on campus. Red Cloud teachers work with students on their individual business plans and plan enrichment activities, like trips to meet local and regional entrepreneurs. The Center is open most days after school and provides students with dedicated space and business developing resources--including 5 cubicles, phones, computers, a conference table, projector, and more.
  • Start-up Support: Students who are prepared to launch their own businesses can apply for a limited amount of funding to cover startup costs. Interested students must submit a full business proposal, which is then reviewed by business teachers and school administrators. Students have already proposed business ideas that included producing local honey, launching a t-shirt shop, and establishing a community garden, a laundromat, and building solar-powered, affordable housing units.

Through the EDI, we are helping our students imagine themselves as the next generation of Lakota business leaders. We are empowering them to pursue business studies in college and to someday launch their own, community-based enterprises. Over time, these businesses will spark opportunity and job creation and increase access to critical products and services on the reservation. Together, we can create a secure and self-sustaining local economy—and a more vibrant, healthier community.

If more information on the Economic Development Initiative, contact: President Fr. George Winzenburg, SJ at (605) 867-5491.


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