Sioux Falls nonprofit focusing on the needs of Whittier neighborhood for the next year
Beverly Ann Miller Foundation was granted $100,000 for the project that will canvas residents one-on-one.
SIOUX FALLS — A nonprofit foundation based in Sioux Falls will use a $100,000 grant to canvas the Whittier neighborhood over the next year to learn resident’s wants and needs at the sidewalk level.
A four-person team from the Beverly Ann Miller Foundation will spend the year holding open forums, potluck lunches and knocking on doors talking to the people who live there. The foundation has already been doing this work, including two events that attracted 1,700 people over the summer, as well as connecting residents with basic needs such as cleaning up yards and medical care, said Clinton Brown, the group’s executive director.
The neighborhood surrounds Whittier Middle School on East Sixth Street, roughly from downtown to Cliff Avenue. Brown said the area has challenges including gentrification, homelessness, aging housing and its proximity to industrial areas on the north side.
“We just basically said what if we called a timeout,” he said. “Instead of everyone coming in and telling the neighborhood what they should be doing, what if we started aggressively talking to all the residents and asking them what their needs are at a real granular level, and even at a macro level.”
The money comes through the Beyond Idea Grant Program, which is a partnership between the South Dakota Community Foundation and the Bush Foundation. Fourteen nonprofits in the state were awarded $1,190,770 in December to support community-based problem solving.
“The Bush Foundation entrusted the SDCF with awarding $1.2 million dollars to support problem-solving work in South Dakota each year for six years,” Ginger Niemann, senior program manager for the Community Foundation, said in a release. “We’re looking forward to supporting this first round of grant recipients from our BIG program and are looking forward to what we will learn as we move this program into 2023.”
Jordan Deffenbaugh from the Beverly Ann Miller Foundation will lead the project with help from Brown and two other part-time staff.
“Jordan will spend the year getting to know all the neighbors,” Brown said. “We are walking the streets and saying, ‘What’s going on? What do you need?”
Just gathering information isn’t enough, however. It’s connecting the residents to resources to get help immediately.
The first task, Brown said, is actually figuring out where the Whittier neighborhood begins and ends.
“Even the city has conflicting maps,” he said. “We’ll start there, by saying, ‘Do you live in Whittier?’ Where are the boundaries? And then being very aggressive, having lunches, monthly open forums, to hear needs.”