Making an Impact: Donate Today to Reach More Young Readers Like Savannah

Help SDHC Meet May 1 Fundraising Deadline and Bolster Student Resources for Young Readers

Rapid City Elementary student Savannah met celebrated children's author Jennifer Richard Jacobson in 2016. She was excited when the author visited her school – to say the least.

"Because a lot of kids don't get to meet authors," Savannah told the South Dakota Humanities Council after the event, when we asked her why the visit was important.

"Some kids have never met one. And her stories were amazing. And she was a lot of fun. And I believe we should do that more."

Jacobson visited the school as part of the SDHC Young Readers Initiative.

The Young Readers Festival of Books engages and educates South Dakota students. In 2016, with sponsorship support from First Bank & Trust and United Way of the Black Hills, 5,000 third-graders received copies of Jacobson's 2016 Young Readers One Book, "Andy Shane and Dolores Starbuckle: 4 Books in 1," from the South Dakota Humanities Council.

SDHC made major strides to provide more of these student resources by earning an NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Access Grant in December. It will support three years of programming for our Young Readers. But we must raise matching funds to get the grant money.

Our first major deadline is May 1, which is why we're asking for your help.

How Can You Help?

Donate to the NEH 1:1 Young Readers Challenge Grant by May 1, 2017. NEH has provided $100,000 to be matched by donors like you. $50,000 will be matched by NEH by May 1, 2017, with another $50,000 to be matched by NEH by May 1, 2018. We're already more than halfway to our first goal, so we know we can reach it with your help!

How will your gift impact our students?

  • With NEH matching funds at 1:1, your gift will have TWICE the impact
  • We'll have $200,000 to fund the Young Readers program for three years
  • We will use the funds to continue the program and expand it to elementary students on all nine South Dakota American Indian reservations and to Spanish-speaking English Language Learners
  • We'll diversify our students' experiences by choosing a tribal author for the 2019 One Book
  • We will bring more authors – and experiences – to South Dakota students like Savannah

Why Do We Need This Programming?

Why is the Young Readers Initiative important? Savannah is why. Still bubbling from excitement, Savannah told us the visit left her wanting more.

"My suggestion is that we should have the author come to our school and have a jelly bean party."
Who doesn't want a jelly bean party?

SDHC's signature event, the 15-year old South Dakota Festival of Books, was created to bring readers and writers together, sparking insightful analysis and discussion. Savannah, a thoughtful third-grader who is admittedly "bossy and shy," meticulously analyzed Jacobson's book like her adult counterparts.

"I really liked the book because it always had a problem in the beginning and a solution in the end," she said. "And because of how two different kinds of people (bossy and shy) became friends."

The Young Readers Initiative brings big-time authors and big-time experiences that South Dakota students deserve. In its short history, the initiative has touched the lives of more than 11,000 students, including Savannah and her peers.

Jennifer Richard Jacobson at the 2016 Young Readers Festival of Books.

Literacy Outreach 'First Rate'

Earning our matched funding and the full $100,000 will help us reach even more students, including those in underserved communities. Our efforts in those areas were instrumental in getting the grant. Humanities Access grants help support capacity building for humanities programs that benefit one or more of the following groups: youth, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged populations.

"The work that the council has been doing with literacy and humanities-oriented literature, particularly with youth, is first rate," said Brandon Johnson, Senior Program Officer at the NEH Office of Challenge Grants.

2017 Young Readers Festival of Books

This year, Chris Van Dusen, illustrator of the 2017 Young Readers One Book, "Adventures on Deckawoo Drive: Books 1-3" by Kate DiCamillo, will do drawing demonstrations and discuss his work with third-graders at the Young Readers Festival.

At least 10 other children's and YA authors and illustrators will also speak to students and fans of all ages in Rapid City and the Deadwood area Sept. 21-23, 2017.

Our collaborators - First Bank & Trust, United Way of the Black Hills, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Rapid City Area Schools, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, and Northern Hills Federal Credit Union – will help us provide children's books, student resources and author presentations in 2017. But we still need your support.
Help us keep helping students like Savannah.

Please consider donating to the SDHC Young Readers Initiative before May 1, 2017 so we can match the first $50,000 of our National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Humanities Access grant.

Click below to donate or contact kyle@sdhumanities.org if you have questions.