2014-03-27 / Headlines

OLC Receives $125,000 Grant to Support its Civic Engagement Program

KYLE, SD -- Oglala Lakota College President Thomas Shortbull announced that the OLC Vocational Education Department has received a grant of $125,000 from the American Indian College Fund. OLC was one of five Tribal colleges to receive this prestigious award.

North West Area Foundation of Minneapolis gave $1 million to the College Fund for the “Leadership in TCU Innovations Awards” that showcases the work that these awardees do in building of healthy and vibrant communities Reservation. The College Fund recognized the work OLC does in building and remodeling community structures for the benefit of the Pine Ridge reservation.

“I am excited and honored that we are one of five tribal colleges to receive this distinguished award, knowing that Oglala Lakota College is recognized for its involvement in civic engagement work on the reservation” stated President Shortbull.

The Oyate Kici Kaga ‘Building for the People’ project recognized the projects OLC construction trades students have been involved in as follows: three residential buildings that have been turned over to the OST Housing Authority; the remodeling of the Porcupine community Elderly Meals Center; and a partnership with University of Colorado Boulder and Thunder Valley to build an energy efficient straw bale house near Sharps Corner.

The College’s initiative to become involved in civic engagement projects was the result of President Shortbull becoming aware of other colleges utilizing civic engagement in their institutions. “I attended a HUD conference in which Henry Cisneros, former HUD secretary, gave a presentation on University of Southern California’s civic engagement project,” said President Shortbull. “Cisneros said the USC made a decision that it needed to be involved in revitalizing and rebuilding the community by renovating existing buildings that surround the USC campus,” Shortbull added.

After the HUD conference President Shortbull began a civic engagement program at OLC, and one component of this effort is to have the vocational education students build houses with OLC funds, to be given to the OST Housing Authority to serve identified housing needs. The College has always recognized the lack of sufficient housing for the people on the Pine Ridge reservation, and this is what prompted the College to undertake this effort.

Andy Thompson, program director of Vocational Education said he hopes to encourage greater participation and funding from other foundations, individual donors and interested government agencies to meet the work that the College is doing with its civic engagement program. The College Fund and NWAF award could not have come at a better time, given cutbacks in federal funds, Thompson said. “The work really needs to continue so that our students have authentic construction projects.

The College Fund grant is intended to help the College develop a marketing plan that will result in corporate, foundation, and individuals providing either financial or material support for the construction projects that OLC vocational education students will be involved in.

For more information on the Oyate Kici Kaga project contact Andy Thompson at 605-455-6080 ( or Development Director Marilyn Pourier in Kyle at 605-455-6045 ( to contribute to the project.

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