Wokini Initiative wins Bush Foundation Prize for Community Innovation

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KJJQ) – The Wokini Initiative at South Dakota State University is the recipient of a $500,000 Bush Foundation Prize for Community Innovation.

The awards aren’t for a particular project; they are in recognition of organizations that are continually solving problems with creativity and success.

The Wokini Initiative is the only South Dakota winner. The initiative is designed to help Native students succeed in college. SDSU is the first university in the country to dedicate a portion of its land grant funds to elevate American Indian student success. SDSU President Barry Dunn talked about the grant.

The Wokini Initiative seeks to eliminate the significant barriers that these students face in achieving a college degree. It includes dedicated scholarships, extensive outreach, academic mentoring and emergency funds. Dunn says the program is already helping to attract and retain Native American students.

The new American Indian student center is being built in the center of the campus.

An advisory board of tribal leaders and educators throughout South Dakota helps guide the Wokini Initiative and provides a tribal perspective to move the Initiative forward.