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Early Learner Lead-Deadwood Overview:

  • A community’s understanding of and commitment to positive early learning environments is vital to its economic development and stability. It is in a community’s best interest to support all facets of early learning.  The traditional preschool classroom model is not always the environment that parents or guardians choose to provide education to their child and, in fact, is becoming less so in recent years. Additionally, it is necessary for infants and children to have physical, social, and emotional development in addition to intellectual development. This includes families that choose home-schooling, grandparents, children in foster care, traditional preschool centers and the safe physical environments available for play and socialization in the greater Lead-Deadwood communities.

  • In Lead-Deadwood, we are piloting the toolkit provided by Black Hills Reads. The toolkit primarily focuses on public awareness and starting a conversation around Early Learning in the community.  This guide allows for an easy transition into the National League of Cities guide which further builds on the efforts from the toolkit. We need to go slow to go fast. We need to be very deliberate in our messaging and dissemination of information to make sure individuals understand that we mean to include all learning environments in this effort.


The Leadership Team:

  • The City of Deadwood recognizes the impacts of early childhood education and development for children from birth to five years of age. We are proud to be a partner in creating the foundations of a positive childhood which, in turn, creates our future leaders and a stronger community for generations to come. 

  • The City of Lead recognizes that early learning for all children ages 0-5 should be a priority. It should not only be the responsibility of parents, but that of the extended family, teachers, and community. Margaret Fuller said ‘today a reader tomorrow a leader’. It is our responsibility to ensure our communities are in the best position to excel. The Early Learner program through the United Way of the Black Hills is a great opportunity to help achieve this goal.

  • United Way of the Black Hills fights for access and quality education for all in the Black Hills. Black Hills Reads is an initiative, under the United Way umbrella, which focuses on helping students achieve reading proficiency by 3rd grade. Providing guidance and support on the leadership with the Early Learner Toolkit, is one way that we can become closer to achieving our goals for the Black Hills area. The convening, collaboration and facilitation of this community driven work is going to be the catalyst for the progress that this community makes regarding early learning. This is a systems change, grass-roots approach, which takes many years to accomplish.

  • The Lead-Deadwood stakeholder group is representative of a wide array of community members that include but are not limited too: ministry, arts & culture, education, business leaders, agencies, science, elected officials, and invested community members.



Black Hills Reads / United Way of the Black Hills will provide funding, collaboration, research, and tracking of the toolkit process for the community.


The stakeholder group will meet monthly to work as a group or in subcommittees. Minutes and agendas will be provided by Black Hills Reads. 


South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children (SDAEYC) has a focus very similar to the work of Rapid City and Lead-Deadwood Early Learner, but with a statewide focus. Since these efforts are occurring simultaneously, The Early Learner Lead-Deadwood  group will actively work with SDAEYC to maintain fluidity of the project and maintain consistent messaging to include branding and marketing.


Goals are guided by the Early Learning Toolkit and stakeholder group.

Our Successes Thus Far:


  • Vision Statement - adapted current mission Early Learner SD

  • Title of Stakeholder Group - Early Learner Lead-Deadwood

    Added Lead-Deadwood to the Early Learner website:

  • Creation of Lead-Deadwood Early Learner Facebook group -

In Progress

  • Creation of an informal supports survey for community organizations/groups

  • Collection of data to establish # of children in community vs. # of children in care

  • Another possible needs assessment for community

  • Bringing more in-home and larger early learning providers into the fold and supporting them.

  • Waterford Upstart Program

  • Creation of an Early Learner Launch and kick off event

  • Creation of Resource List

Not Yet Completed

  • Short videos - show at Outlaw Square, highlighting importance of early learning

  • ‘We are an early learning location’ window decals 

  • Mobile Resource Bank / trunk

  • I-pad (used/donated) giveaway with early learning resources on them

  • Creating ‘caregiver/providers support group’

  • Expansion of learning locations in Lead-Deadwood

  • Volunteers coordinating efforts to attend all early learning events in the Lead-Deadwood area to promote early learning.

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