Collaborations for Change

Collaborations for Change is a strategy used by the John T. Vucurevich Foundation as a key to solve issues in western South Dakota and the Black Hills region.

We ...

  • listen,
  • identify area problems
  • assist financially or through strategic leadership to help promote long-term sustainable change.

It is our intention to partner with area non-profits, educational institutions, government entities and other funders to make a greater impact on the community through a sense of shared responsibility among these partners.

JTVF Collaborative Partnerships

Affordable Housing

Previously JTVF commissioned a housing study to understand the housing landscape in Rapid City. This report identified a large shortfall in multi-family housing units available. In response to this, JTVF contracted with CommonBond Communities to do a feasibility study to determine how to proceed with filling the affordable housing gap. Many community partners continue working together in a multifaceted approach to identify strategies and housing solutions in Rapid City. 

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Black Hills Reads

Black Hills Reads is a Campaign for Grade Level Reading Initiative. This work is a collaborative effort by funders, nonprofits, government agencies, schools, business leaders, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. In 2014, Rapid City joined the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading Initiative, a collaborative that focuses on the fact that reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a key predictor of high school graduation and career success. The local initiative, known as Black Hills Reads, focuses on the pillars of school readiness, summer learning, school attendance, successful parents, and healthy readers to help ensure children are proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade. The United Way of the Black Hills is the backbone organization for Black Hills Reads.

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Collective Impact in our Communities

JTVF collaborates in the collective impact efforts in our community and surrounding area. "Collective Impact" is the process of bringing people together in a structured way to achieve social change.  Initiatives often involve representatives from local government, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses, grassroots citizens and a backbone organization who share a common goal.  JTVF collaborates with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation in the efforts of Food Security and Affordable Housing.  JTVF also facilitates cadres of Emerging Leaders. The Emerging Leaders program provides opportunities for individuals to develop skills and connect with others interested in various issues important to our community.

Early Learner South Dakota & Early Learner Rapid City

Early Learner South Dakota & Early Learner Rapid City

Early Learner South Dakota (ELSD) is a community-driven, grass roots effort, led by the South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children (SDAEYC) bringing awareness and support to the importance of how access to a variety of early learning environments impacts our community’s future. JTVF participates on the statewide leadership team for ELSD. The Foundation is also on the core leadership team for Early Learner Rapid City, alongside United Way of the Black Hills – Black Hills Reads Initiative, the City of Rapid City, and SDAEYC. Early Learner Rapid City is an effort under the umbrella of ELSD with a vision that all children have access to quality early learning experiences and environments to create a solid foundation for lifelong success. Communities that become an Early Learner community, such as Rapid City, engage their community stakeholders to improve early learning in their community. Rapid City is using the Early Learning Community Action Guide from the National League of Cities which helps communities take action to become an Early Learning Community.

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Elevate Rapid City

Elevate Rapid City is a public-private partnership organization committed to elevating the Rapid City and Black Hills region for all. With a targeted spotlight on economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship, workforce development and talent attraction, small business, and business advocacy and quality growth, Elevate Rapid City takes on the challenges and leads the change together. JTVF is a member of Elevate Rapid City’s Executive Committee and invests in the goal of workforce development.

New Start

The New Start Housing Collaborative is a program designed to alleviate involuntary homelessness in Rapid City. The effort is coordinated by Behavior Management Systems, Cornerstone Rescue Mission, and Pennington County Health and Human Services. Individuals receive help through rental assistance, intensive case management, and other supportive services to help them move beyond chronic homelessness into employment and stable or permanent housing.

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The purpose of the OneHeart transformation campus is to elevate the human spirit and the spirit of the Rapid City community. By providing transitional housing and co-locating a variety of services - from childcare to healthcare, from counseling to financial education, and from job-training to higher education– OneHeart creates a way to more efficiently, effectively, and collectively help our neighbors without homes move into permanent housing and a better quality of life. JTVF serves in an advisory capacity to the OneHeart board of directors. The campus is anticipated to open in January 2021.

Perinatal Coalition

The Perinatal Coalition is facilitated by JTVF and is exploring and assessing barriers for women in the Black Hills area accessing prenatal care. The coalition is working to determine potential solutions to these barriers to improve access to prenatal care.

Scholarships for post-secondary education

Following John Vucurevich’s legacy of helping individuals further their education, JTVF provides scholarships to five area institutions. Students often times need supports and services while striving to be successful in their educational goals. To aid in these supports JTVF also partners with the Western Dakota Tech Student Success Center that provides services to help students be successful.

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South Dakota State University Logo
University of South Dakota Logo
Oglala Lakota College Logo
Westeran Dakota Tech Logo
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Starting Strong

Starting Strong is a community scholarship program for 3 and 4-year-old children from low income families who typically are not eligible for Head Start. The Starting Strong Program is coordinated by Early Childhood Connections and provides scholarships for children and quality improvement funds for the providers so the children may obtain high quality education in order to enter school ready to learn.

Systems of Care Collaborative

JTVF facilitates this collaborative that began in 2008 with a focus on behavioral health providers serving youth. This group meets monthly with often times 30+ participants working on priorities and barriers to improving behavioral health, services and supports for our area youth.

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Uplifting Parents

Uplifting Parents (UP) was created to empower single parent families by providing resources and support to promote their advancement in education. The goal is to help lower-income single parents acquire the education needed to become financially secure and provide stability and opportunity for their children. Mentoring services for single parents are the heart of the program, striving to break the cycle of poverty through a dual generation approach. The Uplifting Parents Program has served over 100 single parents and their families since 2014 through 2020. The Uplifting Parents Coalition is led by Catholic Social Services and is comprised of over 30 partnering agencies who refer clients into UP. Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) is implementing a randomized control study on Uplifting Parents. The study will examine if Uplifting Parents increases college graduation rates for single parents.

Previous Collaborative Efforts

We are proud of previous collaborative efforts JTVF has been a part of:  Below is a list of these efforts in reverse chronological order. Many of the programs and partnerships developed in our past collaborative work have led to other programs/projects that continue in our community today.

Intensive Family Services (IFS)

The Intensive Family Services Program is an innovative, community-based program developed in 2014 in response to findings of the Rapid City Systems of Care Collaborative (SOCC) at the request of the SD Department of Social Services.  A two-year pilot program was developed to work with families with children who have significant behavioral health needs, diverting them from residential placement. The program is currently administered by Youth and Family Services (YFS).  The goal of the IFS program is to increase the number of families who develop the skills necessary to maintain a healthy, safe, nurturing, and stable family environment and reduce the number of children and youth with behavior health needs that require residential placement. 

Future of the Arts in Rapid City Collaborative

In 2013 JTVF facilitated discussions for a coalition of arts leaders and stake holders who came together to discuss ways to maximize the rich potential of our community’s arts and culture.  With creative thinking they worked to develop ideas for area arts organizations to enhance their abilities to build audiences, reach the next generation, utilize technology, integrate art education and create a paradigm of collaborative energy to have a thriving arts community in Rapid City.

Rapid City Performing Arts Coalition

A coalition developed in 2011 that included Rapid City Performing Arts, Rapid City Area Schools, and the City of Rapid City.  The coalition secured a venue, a historic building in downtown Rapid City, to support a broad range of art programming.  JTVF was proud to be a funder of this important public/private partnership. 

Rapid City Senior Cooperative Master Plan Collaborative

The City Council for Rapid City requested in 2010 for JTVF to lead a collaborative project to better understand the needs of our increasing aging population.  The Senior Cooperative Master Plan Committee was formed with a diverse group of stakeholders representing senior centers, the business community, service providers, members of the City Council and members at large.  The planning process looked at health and wellness, active lifestyle and community design to make recommendations for future services, facilities or activities.  The Government Research Bureau at USD administered a survey, conducted focus groups, along with individual interviews and a gaps analysis to provide recommendations adopted by the City Council of Rapid City.

Black Hills Human Services Collaborative

In 2007 the Black Hills Community Needs Assessment indicated serious gaps in access to affordable mental health and substance abuse services.  This report led to the formation of the Black Hills Human Services Collaborative.  Beginning in 2009, JTVF led a diverse group of community partners representing nearly 40 area organizations that came together to create a more responsive mental health and substance abuse service delivery system in Western South Dakota.  Members of the collaborative identified improved access and lack of coordination for follow up care as key issues to be solved and the idea for the Crisis Center was born.  Today, the Crisis Care Center exists at the Care Campus and provides the community with crisis options other than inpatient psychiatric care, incarceration, and involuntary admission to detoxification services.  Long standing community partnerships derived from this original work continue to collaborate to this day.

Partners in Nursing

In 2009 JTVF was chosen as one of 10 foundations nationwide to receive funding from Partners Investing in Nursing’s (PIN) Future, a nationwide initiative from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to help address the long-term shortage of available nurses across the country.  The two-year grant funded “Prepare and Retain,” a collaborative effort among Rapid City Regional Hospital (now Monument Health), South Dakota State University, and The University of South Dakota West River Nursing programs to ensure that nurses are retained in the health care workforce throughout their career.  


In 2008 a broad base of community leadership guided the development of Teen-Up to implement a strategic plan that incorporated youth engagement throughout Rapid City.  Involving youth in the community, with their voice, impacting and influencing outcomes, not only helps to develop better young citizens, it makes Rapid City a better community.  Teen Up continues through Rapid City Area Schools. 

Partnership Rapid City

The motto for Partnership Rapid City was “Connecting the Community with the Classroom.”  In 2007, the collaborative group began working to create alliances between businesses, non-profit organizations, and local schools to create learning experiences for youth within the community.  Students benefitted from the kinds of community resources that improve academic achievement to better prepare them for higher education and the workforce.