Black Hills Reads receives $450,000 grant from JTVF to continue programming


John T. Vucurevich Foundation presents check to Black Hills Reads, Photo Credit Rapid City Journal
Photo Credit: Nathan Thompson, Rapid City Journal

Rapid City SD - Black Hills Reads (BHR) Education Initiative of United Way of the Black Hills (UWBH) hosted a luncheon to discuss some of the efforts and changes over the last year. At the conclusion of the luncheon, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation presented a check in the amount of $450,000 to allow BHR to continue programming efforts.

At the luncheon, Kayla Klein, BHR director, shared data presented in the UWBH 2019 Community Needs Assessment that found that access and affordability of child care services and resources was a top #3 pressing need.

"The birth to 5 age range is the most important period of development physically, cognitively and social. This is a critical time to reach these kids and ensure they have the proper resources to be prepared for school and have a foundation in reading. This way, when they get to third grade, they are reading proficiently, and are ready to read in order to learn," says Klein.

Callie Schleusner, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at Benchmark Data Labs, introduced BHR Systems Change Report with illustrations of how BHR is partnering with local nonprofits, childcare providers, local and statewide government, and local businesses to create systematic change in the Black Hills, and statewide through advocacy efforts like Early Learner SD. 

Kim Huber of Coeur Wharf in Lead, shared data on the impact of early learning and child care in the local economy and businesses. "82% (26,698) of children in South Dakota under the age of 3 have working parents. Yet, parents need to go back to work and don’t have a place to enroll their child," says Huber. 

Alan Solano, President and CEO of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, shared the mission and vision of the Foundation to serve community members to have a higher quality of life, and how the work that BHR is helping serve that mission.

Learn more about BHR Systems Change, and read the full report at:

For more information about Black Hills Reads, please contact Kayla Klein at