Indian Reservation school gets funding boost

Citi partnership will finance the much needed rehabilitation and expansion of Rockyford School

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A new partnership between Citi Community Capital and Dakotas America, a Community Development Entity and the primary recipient of new markets tax credits in the state of South Dakota, will finance the much needed rehabilitation and expansion of Rockyford School on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Financing worth $24 million will enlarge the public school for a growing population, while modernizing facilities and upgrading technology for some of America's neediest students. Pine Ridge has in the past ranked as one of America's most impoverished communities.

The new facilities will provide space for a range of outreach programs such as sport, art, music, theater, language tuition and summer camps. The aim is to improve overall education while concentrating on early years' programs and reducing a teen drop-out rate that has run as high as 70%.

The funds will be administered by GROW, a private non-profit corporation whose mission is to create sustainable communities through investments in housing, education and economic opportunities. A subsidiary of GROW will construct and own the new facility and lease it for use to the School District.

The project will help maintain 350 full-time jobs and provide employment for 30 construction workers during the building phase. In addition, 20 more teaching posts will be generated to meet a growing number of entry level students. The transformation is also expected to improve a historically high staff turnover rate.

"Citi is honored to be a part of this vital project that provides both job creation today along with better preparation for the labor force of tomorrow," said Andrew Ditton, co-head of Citi Community Capital.

In addition to the Rockyford School project, plans are also under way to allocate up to $20 million for the renovation and construction of a school in nearby Batesland, South Dakota.