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.
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.
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.
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.
The following six goals have been identified as instrumental to increasing the quality of life and accelerating efforts to create comprehensive community revitalization.
Create new businesses and implement workforce development programs to ensure that there are individuals trained with the skills to fill new positions.
Address economic issues at the systemic level by expanding banking options and affordable housing for the workforce on the Reservation.
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.
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.
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.
Systematically develop infrastructure by providing the Tribal Government with the ability to operate, maintain and replace current infrastructure and facilitate future development.
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
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.
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.
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.
Increase the percentage of students who successfully transition from early childhood learning to elementary school and from middle school to secondary education.
Promote economic growth by developing a campaign to recruit vertically integrated agribusinesses.
Reduce the rate of violent crime by 10% over the next ten years.
Leverage private capital through a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for community development.
Refurbish exiting housing and utilize rural South Carolina’s abundance of vacant land to increase the stock of affordable housing.