About South Dakota

The communities in our region have a rich and diverse history. Despite a legacy of attacks on Native Americans' land, language, and traditions, their culture remains a vibrant and powerful force in the state of South Dakota.

Yet the Lakota sovereign nations on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and Lower Brule reservations are located in some of the poorest counties in the United States. Many Lakota families struggle with issues of employment, housing, and healthcare, and the educational landscape is in stark contrast with that of the state's more affluent communities. Fewer than 10 percent of Native adults hold a bachelor's degree, and among students living on reservations, less than one in three reads on grade level.

Tribal officials and community and spiritual leadership have been working against these challenges along with off-reservation political leaders. Resistance against oppressive practices in our communities has been strong—from Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull to the American Indian Movement to present-day initiatives. Parents, teachers, principals, tribal councils, and the local community all want the best for Lakota children. State political leaders and the Bureau of Indian Education also want the best for Lakota children. But while so many stakeholders share a common purpose, there is still much work to be done to ensure educational success for all Lakota students on South Dakota’s reservations.

Teach For America established a partnership with South Dakota in 2004 with 17 corps members spread across the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. In 2013, our communities welcomed 41 corps members to the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Lower Brule, and Standing Rock reservations. While tribal leadership and non-Native American organizations have a history of limited collaboration, growing community voices have expressed how much they value their relationships with Teach For America teachers. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners, we're striving toward college-readiness, cultural awareness, and identity-rooted pride for all Native students living on reservations in South Dakota.

Hear more about our region from our Executive Director, Jim Curran, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.


Total Corps Size


Alumni In The Region


Year Partnership Established

Teaching in South Dakota

Top Stories

June 19, 2018
We sat down with Elom Edoh (South Dakota '15,) the Gear Up College Coordinator at Todd County High School, to learn more about his why TFA, how he is continuing to make an impact for students, and his biggest piece of advice for new corps members
One Day
June 11, 2018
A project to build up book collections for LGBTQ youth inspired these suggestions for your own reading list (and your classroom).
One Day
By Susan Brenna
November 1, 2016
From teaching high school English on the Rosebud Indian Reservation to being deputy chief of staff to Representative Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), Mark A. Cruz, an enrolled member of the Klamath tribe, shows us his path.
The Capital Journal
November 3, 2015
Native Sun News
October 21, 2015
One Day
By Leah Fabel
December 11, 2014
When a community’s aspirations take on spiritual proportions, what does success look like?
One Day
By Susan Brenna
December 11, 2014
The leader of Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative speaks about the organization’s role on reservations--and the challenges that come with it.
One Day
By Susan Brenna
December 11, 2014
The federal government is poised to grant more control of Native schools to their tribal nations. Could it work?

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