Early Learner Rapid City Overview:

  • A community’s understanding of and commitment to positive early learning environments is vital to its economic development and stability. Rapid City understands that it is in the 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, foster children, traditional preschool centers and the safe physical environment available for play and socialization in every community within Rapid City.

  • In Rapid City, we have chosen to follow the National League of Cities Early Learning Community Action Guide for our early learning work. This guide provides researched guidance on how to build a community that supports early learning in all facets of the community.

  • 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 Leadership Team:

  • In order to help streamline our efforts in Rapid City, a leadership team was created. The leadership team looks not to prescribe goals and objectives but to allow those to grow organically from the subcommittee and statewide committee meetings. Collaboration and input from the constituents of early learning will reflect what the community wants, needs and feels is vital and will be the success of this project.

  • The Leadership team consists of the Rapid City Mayor’s office, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, SDAEYC, and Black Hills Reads/United Way of the Black Hills



The leadership team (consisting of the Mayor’s office, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, SDAEYC, and United Way of the Black Hills) facilitates, organizes, and provides additional resources to the larger stakeholder group and subcommittees


The National League of Cities Early Learning Community Action Guide will serve as the source document for rating progress.  Found Here


The stakeholder group will meet on a quarterly basis to receive updates on progress from subcommittees and the leadership team.


The subcommittees are made up of stakeholders and interested community partners/individuals. They will meet regularly between the quarterly meetings as determined by the subcommittee group


SDAEYC has a focus very similar to the work of Rapid City but with a statewide focus. Since these efforts are occurring simultaneously, The Early Learner Rapid City 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 National League of Cities Community Action Guide with the direction of the leadership team and other stakeholders.

Our Successes Thus Far:


  • Mission Statement

  • Title of Stakeholder group: Early Learner Rapid City 

  • Creation of Early Learner video

  • Purchase of URL: earlylearnersd.org

  • Purchase of email: info@earlylearnersd.org

  • One-pager (subcommittee 1.1)

  • Website created through Mile Up Marketing (Early Learner SD funds used) and currently being maintained by the leadership groups with Early Learner SD.

  • Early Learner Provider survey (subcommittee 1.2)

In Progress

  • Create the "why" early learning is important.

  • Create the "what" does early learning look like (components?)

  • Establish subcommittee 1.4 to fill gap in work

  • Create finalized resource guide (subcommittee 1.5)

  • Create resource guide "shortcut" guide (subcommittee 1.5)

  • Create parent survey about "how they receive and find information" (subcommittee 1.5)

Not Yet Completed

  • Assess how families are receiving and viewing information/activities and events.

  • Create talking points for stakeholders in Early Learner Rapid City

  • Advocacy group formation and organization

Bring this to your community!

Want your community to become an Early Learner Community?

Have questions?

We would love to speak to you more about why Early Learning is vital.