Sisseton, S.D. – GROW South Dakota, in partnership with Dakotafire Media, has been awarded a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant for the implementation of a two-year project called the Prairie Idea Exchange.
This goal of the project is sparking regionwide conversations to help rural communities, especially those in northeastern South Dakota, be more successful in their efforts to create positive change. The project will make use of the expertise of the region’s economic development leaders to start the conversations, and it will use the journalism skills and reach of Dakotafire magazine to explain those ideas and spread them across the region. These conversations will continue in online forums and at community events, which will add the voices of community members to the exchange of ideas.
“Prairie Idea Exchange and our partnership with Dakotafire Media fits well with GROW South Dakota’s mission of providing the innovative advancement of rural South Dakota communities,” says Lori Finnesand, GROW South Dakota Chief Executive Officer.
Heidi Marttila-Losure, Dakotafire Media’s publisher and editor, stated, “Dakotafire has a successful model of bringing together weekly newspaper journalists to report on community topics affecting our rural region, and we hope to take that a step further by sparking community conversations and solutions through the Prairie Idea Exchange.”
Through its distribution in weekly newspapers, Dakotafire currently reaches about 12,000 households in North and South Dakota. To facilitate a truly regionwide conversation, the Prairie Idea Exchange will expand that distribution to reach more than 30,000 households in northeastern South Dakota.
Each issue will be followed by events in local communities where community members can discuss the ideas presented in the magazine, add their own ideas, and determine which of those ideas could be applied to their own communities. An online forum will provide another format for these conversations to take place.
Established in 2013, the Community Innovation Grant program is designed to inspire and support communities to use problem-solving processes that lead to more effective, equitable, and sustainable solutions. Projects receiving Community Innovation Grants can be at any stage in the problem-solving process, which includes: identifying the need, increasing collective understanding of the issue, generating ideas, and testing and implementing solutions.
“Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling community problems in a way we believe most likely to result in real breakthrough solutions. They are engaging the community, collaborating with other organizations, and making the most of existing assets; in short, all of the things it takes to create a true community innovation,” said Elli Haerter, Bush Foundation North Dakota and South Dakota activities manager.
The Bush Foundation will award nearly $5 million to 34 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, through its Community Innovation Grant program. The full list of Community Innovation Grant recipients can be found at BushFoundation.org/2014CIGrants.
GROW South Dakota strives to reach rural communities to improve the quality of life through housing, community and economic development. Historically, these organizations have invested over $50 million in housing development and $54 million in economic development. For more information about GROW South Dakota’s housing and business development programs and services please visit our website at www.growsd.org or call 605-698-7654.