Second Round Rural and Tribal Designees

On April 28, 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the second round of designated rural and tribal promise zones. They are located in the South Carolina Low Country and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Through the Promise Zone designation, these communities will work directly with federal, state and local agencies to give local leaders proven tools to improve the quality of life in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas.

View Promise Zones Second Round Urban Designees.

View Promise Zones Designees, Finalists, and Applicants.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Promise Zone

Pine Ridge Promise Zone

Lead Applicant: Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

Key Partners: Oglala Sioux Tribe; Pine Ridge Bureau of Indian Affairs; Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority; Oglala Sioux Land Office; Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing; Oglala Sioux Natural Resources Regulatory Agency; Oglala Lakota College; Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial; Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce; Oglala Sioux Tribe Environmental Project; Oglala Sioux Tribe Utility Office; Lakota Funds; Native American Natural Foods; Oglala Sioux Tribe Health Administration; Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation; Oglala Sioux Tribe Rural Water; Tusweca Tiospaye; Pyatt Studio LLC; Village Earth

View Pine Ridge Fact Sheet.

About the Promise Zone

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Promise Zone is situated in the southwest corner of South Dakota and is home to nearly 35,000 residents, nearly half of whom live below the poverty level. Substance abuse is pervasive and affects 99% of residents directly or through a member of their close family. The prevalence of alcohol and drug use threatens public safety as 90% of violent crimes on the reservation are attributed to substance abuse. The Reservation suffers from a chronic housing shortage and there is a tremendous need to develop water, sewer and solid waste infrastructure.  Unemployment rates are high among residents, and more than half of Pine Ridge students do not graduate from high school.

Pine Ridge Promise Zone Overview

The Pine Ridge Reservation experiences extreme poverty, which manifests in various ways, from unemployment and high crime rates to lack of educational options to inability to obtain affordable housing.

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, in partnership with the implementation partner organizations, will take a holistic approach to addressing these issues. The Pine Ridge Promise Zone Plan builds on the regional planning effort undertaken as a part of a HUD Sustainable Communities Grant. The Plan focuses on creating worker-owned businesses, developing innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges, and expanding quality affordable housing to address systemic issues and revitalize the region.

Promise Zone Goals

The following six goals have been identified as instrumental to increasing the quality of life and accelerating efforts to create comprehensive community revitalization.

Job Creation

Create new businesses and implement workforce development programs to ensure that there are individuals trained with the skills to fill new positions.


  • Implement an innovative workforce development program to train unemployed, out of school individuals.
  • Create a worker-owned cooperative enterprise to increase community wealth and employee buy-in, which will in turn boost productivity and employee assets.

Increase Economic Activity

Address economic issues at the systemic level by expanding banking options and affordable housing for the workforce on the Reservation.


  • Increasing the capital base on the Reservation by expanding the Lakota Federal Credit Union and partnering with outside capital sources, including other banks and lending institutions.
  • Establish a workforce housing model to provide affordable housing for the existing Reservation workforce and attract new employment opportunities.

Improve Educational Opportunities

Improve overall educational opportunities on the Reservation from primary school through the post-secondary level by offering Lakota immersion education, charter school options and opportunities at Oglala Lakota College.

Strategies Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Promise Zone

  • Work with the South Dakota Secretary of Education to explore new education models for tribal communities and implement charter school legislation that will create a pathway for piloting community-based culturally appropriate models of education.
  • Increase the level of Lakota Language fluency among young people by expanding immersion programs, increasing parental involvement, and developing Lakota Language fluency assessments.
  • Increase access to and relevance of higher education programming at Oglala Lakota College through expanded financial assistance opportunities and the development of a labor market information system for the Reservation.

Improve Public Safety

Identify and implement strategies to improve overall public safety on the Pine Ridge Reservation including addressing substance abuse issues and strengthening various components of the justice system.


  • Reduce substance abuse by 5% over the next 5 years by expanding Access to Recovery, a program that provides access to substance abuse and other mental health treatment.
  • Partner with the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing, Public Safety Program, Tribal Courts, and Tribe Attorney General’s Office to reduce violence in Tribal housing units, increase training for public safety officers, and explore more innovative and culturally appropriate and restorative justice programs in the courts.
  • Decrease the number of reported incidents of domestic violence through outreach and awareness campaigns, educational programming, and the creation of a domestic violence shelter.

Provide Affordable Housing

Increase access to affordable, low maintenance, energy efficient housing for residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation, including low-rent, home-ownership, and middle income housing, by developing the real estate market and increasing access to capital.


  • Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing will partner with HUD to finance and build Tribal homeownership houses, blend existing subdivisions, and obtain low rent units.Continue to build a sustainable community development, planned using a HUD Sustainable Communities Grant. The development will be a complete community system incorporating business space, social, educational, and economic services, and will provide housing for a population of up to 1,000 residents.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive housing plan for the Pine Ridge Reservation, including an evaluation of sites, infrastructure, alternative housing designs and types, target residents and funding and financing options.

Develop Infrastructure

Systematically develop infrastructure by providing the Tribal Government with the ability to operate, maintain and replace current infrastructure and facilitate future development.


  • Address intergovernmental and jurisdictional issues related to taxation, water, sewer and electricity to create a more effective way to sustain infrastructure development.
  • Ensure the quality of current water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure and establish a Tribal entity with the necessary resources to upgrade and expand these infrastructure systems.

South Carolina Promise Zone

South Carolina Promise Zone

Photo taken by Andy Brack, June 24, 2015. Copyright 2015, Center for a Better South.

Lead Applicant: Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance

Key Partners: South Carolina Housing Authority; South Carolina Department of Commerce; Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina; South Carolina Department of Agriculture; South Carolina Victim's Assistance Network; GrowFoods Carolina; Palmetto Project; Lowcountry Council of Governments

View South Carolina Fact Sheet.

About the Promise Zone

The Promise Zone is located in southwestern South Carolina and encompasses portions of Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties. The Southern Carolina Promise Zone is home to 90,004 residents, 28.12% of whom live in poverty. The Median Income for the 6 county Promise Zone area is $32,705, a full 25% less than South Carolina’s Median Household Income and 45% less than the United States’ Median Household Income. Educational attainment and employment rates are low among residents of the Promise Zone and quality affordable housing is scarce.


To address the significant needs of the region, the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance (SCA) has enlisted the assistance of over 28 partner organizations, both within the Promise Zone and across the State, to lead the Promise Zone. With 20 years of experience in the region, the SCA is well-positioned to collaborate among partners to revitalize the community and improve the quality of life for residents.

Promise Zone Goals

The following goals have been set forth by the SCA to increase the quality of life, promote economic opportunities and accelerate efforts to create comprehensive community revitalization across the South Carolina Lowlands.

Job Creation

Create jobs by leveraging local food systems, promoting and recruiting industry for the area and providing new job opportunities through sustainability initiatives and job training.


  • Establish a food hub system to offer aggregation, sale and distribution services for small fruit and vegetable growers that would not otherwise have the resources to access larger, more consistent markets.
  • Provide Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification training for 50 new farmers per year, enabling them to access wider markets and increase production and distribution of higher margin fruits and vegetables.
  • Create 25 new jobs per year in distribution and marketing food hub products.
  • Attract new firms and to facilitate the expansion of existing firms that will create an average of 200 jobs annually by continuing an ongoing strategy of promoting “business clusters” around target industries of manufacturing, distribution and entrepreneurship.
  • Create 25 new jobs per year in green energy upgrades which will additionally lower monthly utility bills and provide energy efficient home renovations.
  • Help improve financial stability for low?income families by offering specialized financial and job training to improve their skill levels and, ultimately, lead to more long-term economic success.

Improve Educational Outcomes

Increase the percentage of students who successfully transition from early childhood learning to elementary school and from middle school to secondary education.


  • Increase the number of schools participating in a pilot program operated by Transform SC, an innovative collaboration of business leaders, policymakers, educators, parents and students aimed at preparing high school graduates to compete in the global economy.
  • Expand the World Class Scholars program, a free, real-time, online student-exchange program partnering schools and students in South Carolina with schools and students around the world.
  • Increase enrollment in My First Books of the Low country, an early literacy partnership in which enrolled children under age five receive a free new book each month.

Increase Economic Activity

Promote economic growth by developing a campaign to recruit vertically integrated agribusinesses.


  • Target 80 agribusiness food processing companies through recruitment campaigns, marketing materials and trade show attendance.
  • Attract established farming organizations that will develop high value non-row crops in the region, producing sufficient product to justify a packing facility and a processing facility, within first three years of designation.

Reduce Serious and Violent Crime

Reduce the rate of violent crime by 10% over the next ten years.


  • Identify and implement strategies to improve overall public safety on the Pine Ridge Reservation including addressing substance abuse issues and strengthening various components of the justice system.

Leverage Private Capital

Leverage private capital through a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for community development.


  • Leverage $5 million in identified funds, with private bank funds, to create $10 million fund.
  • Create one permanent job for every $65,000 of RLF funds loaned.
  • Assist new and developing local businesses in taking advantage of growth opportunities through the Revolving Loan Fund.

Improve Affordable Housing Stock

Refurbish exiting housing and utilize rural South Carolina’s abundance of vacant land to increase the stock of affordable housing.


  • Seek grants and work with community organizations to increase affordable housing options.
  • Build at least 250 new affordable housing units and renovate 250 owner-occupied homes over 10 years.