In the nearly three years since the Cheyenne River Youth Project® launched its innovative teen internship program at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center, 184 teenagers have completed internships in sustainable agriculture, social enterprise, wellness and art. Not only have these young people gained valuable skills that will serve them well all their lives, they are having a lasting impact on the Cheyenne River reservation’s economy.
For CRYP, it’s all about the development of the Lakota workforce—and building healthy, resilient, well-rounded adults in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit youth organization has invested $36,950 in Cheyenne River’s teenagers, providing instruction, mentorship, workshops, certifications, real-life job experience and wages. According to Julie Garreau, executive director, that’s making a difference on more than one level.
“When the kids earn their own money, they’re able to buy things they need,” Garreau explained. “Even more importantly, they’re thinking about how to earn more money, and about their own futures. One teen used his stipend to buy a lawn mower and started providing local lawn-care services. Others have purchased musical equipment. It’s really exciting to see that.”