2013 Campaign: The YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation Through Education

Red Cloud Indian School / Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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Project Goal: $15,000

Goal met and exceeded!

For the 2013 World Relief Campaign, "The YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation through Education," SALT worked to raise $15,000 to fund the technological materials necessary to implement a new reading program at the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (South Dakota). The Red Cloud Indian School depends on private donations for more than 95% of its operating budget and provides free tuition for its students. Native American causes are largely underfunded and Pine Ridge has been named among the poorest places in the United States.

This project is similar to the WRC from 2004, which funded a library at a public school on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota. 


A letter of thanks from Pine Ridge:

Greetings from Red Cloud Indian School! I wanted to share a brief note to say thank you for all your hard work in raising funds to support Red Cloud through the Social Action Team. We are grateful to this tremendous Valparaiso University student group for this $20,139.71 gift. Specifically, your support will provide document cameras and LCD projectors for all k-5 classrooms. As Principal Jennifer Sierra shared, your generosity will expose Lakota students to many hands-on activities that they might not experience elsewhere.Thanks to the support of Valparaiso students and our other generous donors, we have increased capacity to educate, feed, and inspire 600 students. At Red Cloud, we are fortunate to mold the young minds of today into the future leaders of tomorrow. From the moment our young Lakota boys and girls walk into their kindergarten classroom and as they navigate the triumphs and challenges of middle school, we get to walk hand-in-hand with them toward their success. Through an education of the mind and heart in our Lakota, Catholic and Jesuit tradition, we offer skills for life. 

Our curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of a solid education, including math and reading, science and physical education. We offer classes in Lakota language and Lakota studies. After-school programs throughout the year, including during the summer, give our students an opportunity to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

And to watch our kids grow into mature young adults is incredibly rewarding. I watch in awe each day as Red Cloud students work to realize their dreams, often in the face of tremendous adversity. And with each year’s graduating class, I am inspired by the transformational change that happens at Red Cloud and the change we are working to share across Indian Country.


Please share our appreciation with all the students who participated in this fundraising effort for their amazing support! Thank you for being an important part of our history and our future.  I hope you will join us again next year as we educate the Lakota leaders of tomorrow.


Fr. George Winzenburg, S.J.
Red Cloud Indian School, 100 Mission Drive, Pine Ridge, SD 57770-2100

Download the brochure here.

If you have any questions about the campaign, email Nicole Wilken.  


2013 Color 4 a Cause Run

The 5K Color 4 a Cause Run was the final event for the 2013 World Relief Campaign.

A Case for Support 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

Red Cloud also gives students the educational tools needed for today, by teaching math, science, English, computer science, etc. Our pastoral ministry team helps support people as they deal with the extreme poverty, substance abuse and the despair that can accompany it.

Red Cloud school artwork

Introduction and Executive Summary

The Social Action Leadership Team (SALT) is the social justice ministry of the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. As a community, students seek to embody the Christian call to be the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). SALT helps students develop a passion and practice of Christian social action. SALTers draw upon God’s love for all people to cultivate the skills of community organizing, awareness raising, and fund development. SALTers are equipped to lead lives of social justice and serve as agents for positive change in their communities.

As an essential part of this mission, SALT partners with a local or international organization in order to address critical needs within the region. Every year for more than twenty years, SALT has selected a specific project in need and organized a fundraising campaign around it – known as the World Relief Campaign (WRC). These projects vary greatly in location and philanthropic endeavor, but consistently offer a sustainable asset to the selected community. The community is also engaged in the development of the proposal and implementation of the project. Once the project and target monetary goal are established, SALT works to educate and organize the campus and surrounding community in order to both increase awareness of the specific social justice issue encompassed in the not-for-profit and raise funds to aid the organization.

SALT is excited to announce the 2013 WRC “The YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation through Education.” This campaign will fund the purchase of classroom technology to implement a new reading program at two elementary schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. SALT will be working in cooperation with the schools to carry out this fund raising campaign and educate the Valparaiso community about Native American causes that too often go unnoticed.

A Brief History of the Pine Ridge Reservation

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has a complicated history, centering on a continuing conflict between the indigenous population and the U.S. government. The many influential leaders of the Oglala tribe include Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The Pine Ridge Reservation includes the Black Hills which is a sacred site for the Oglala tribe who live there.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 established the Great Sioux Nation extending from Canada to Kansas, Wyoming to Wisconsin. This peace agreement was broken when the U.S. government restricted the size of the reservation in order to take possession of the natural resources of the land. In response, Chief Red Cloud organized the most successful uprising against the U.S. government by an indigenous group. This military action led to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 – the land of the reservation was declared possession of the Lakota people. The war began again, however, with Custer’s exploration of the Black Hills in 1874. In December 1890, more than 150 Native American men, women, and children were slaughtered in the villages by the U.S. government in what is now known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. Since the time of the Treaties, the land of the Lakota people has steadily been reduced to the area of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Although the reservation is still considered to be the second-largest reservation in the United States, it is only a shadow of what it used to be.

Today, the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation face many cultural and social problems associated with the lack of resources and support from the U.S. government. Studies show that the Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest areas in the United States with a per capita income of $6,286. Of the estimated 40,000 people who live on the reservation, eighty percent are unemployed and many more live below the poverty line. There is a lack of infrastructure, with few stores or recreational facilities, little industry, and no public transportation. On the reservation, life expectancy is the lowest in the United States, 48 years for men and 52 for women. Rates of diabetes, heart disease, tuberculosis, infant mortality, and obesity are much greater than the national averages. Additionally, there are high rates of alcoholism, smoking, and drug use. The conditions of the reservation are similar to a third-world country.

Red Cloud Indian School

In 1888, slightly more than a decade after the war of Custer, a Jesuit mission was established on the Reservation following an accepted petition by Chief Red Cloud submitted to the U.S. government. Within a year, the school grew to serve over 100 students taught in three classes.

In 1969, the school was renamed the Red Cloud Indian School, a reference to the indigenous leader who understood that the Native American community needed to prioritize the education of their children. The Red Cloud Indian School website describes the school as “the product of a lasting bond between groups of two separate cultures who wanted to enhance the best parts of both worlds to serve the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.” Founded in the Catholic tradition, the Red Cloud Indian Schools emphasize the importance of both a well-grounded education and an understanding of the rich Lakota culture and values.

The YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation through Education

SALT is raising $15,000 to provide twelve document cameras and twelve LCD projectors necessary to implement the Journeys Reading Program at the Red Cloud Elementary School and its sister school, Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School. This new technology will be used in all classrooms kindergarten through 5th grade, affecting over 200 students between the two schools. The document camera/LCD technology will allow the teachers to more efficiently teach the reading strategies presented in the Journeys Reading Program and involve students in highly engaging activities using the technology.

According to Principal Jennifer Sierra at the Red Cloud Elementary School, students will have better recall because they can visualize the lessons and strategies, as well as have the opportunity to view and discuss each other’s effort. Additionally, the purpose of the lesson can be reinforced with many examples easily presented, and rigor will be increased as students move from following the teacher model to be doing the work independently as they engage with their peers. This technology will be instrumental in the education of both visual and hands-on learners. These materials can also be used to aid the teaching of other parts of the curricula. With the document cameras and projectors, the schools can also decrease copying expenses for classroom materials. 

Project Goals

The intended outcome of the YAWA Project:

1) SALT has set a monetary goal of $15,000 to be raised by April 30, 2013, which will be used to fund the materials for the reading program at two elementary schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

2) SALT is seeking to educate Valparaiso University and the surrounding community about Native American culture and the continued challenges facing the Lakota Sioux tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

3) SALT hopes to equip and inspire student leaders to become lifelong activists.

Opportunities to Offer Support

SALT gratefully accepts any personal and corporate monetary donations. Furthermore, campus and community social organizations are encouraged to plan fundraising events. Anyone interested in working directly with the project may attend upcoming on-campus fundraisers organized by SALT, as well as attend our weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 9:30pm in the Mueller Hall Refectory. SALT welcomes opportunities to speak to campus groups, congregations, and community organizations. Finally, SALT invites you to pray for this worthy cause and seek opportunities to serve those in need in your community and around the world. 


In addition to using the on-line donation button, donations may be directed to:

Chapel of the Resurrection

Valparaiso, IN 46383

219.464.5093 ext. 5

*Checks payable to Valparaiso University with “WRC” in the memo line


Questions may be directed to:

Nicole Wilken, 2013 WRC Chair




Other Contact Information

Red Cloud Indian School: Principal Jennifer Sierra, jennifersierra@redcloudschool.org

The YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation through Education website,








Previous Years

In addition to the help SALT members provide locally, SALT has been helping people around the globe for years with the World Relief Campaign!

2012 project, "Kenya Dig It: A Well for Wellness," a project to construct a well at a hospital in Kenya.

2011 project, "KuJenga: Building Minds One Block at a Time," a project to build a pre-primary school room in Tanzania

2010 project, "Casas for Kids: From House to Hope," to build a foster house for children in the village of Los Angeles on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.


2009 project, "Shui 2 Go: Pipeline to the People" was a project to bring clean water to the rural Yunnan Province of China.

2008 project, Child Creativity Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, EdJakarta, Imagination in Session

2007, Uganda, Mission Nutrition, nutrition program

2006, Haiti, Operation Haiti health care clinic

2005, Malawi, Peanut Butter Project

2004, Crow Creek, South Dakato, Book It to Crow Creek

2003, Bethlehem, Beds for Orphanages

2002, Kenya, AIDS/HIV treatment for children

2001, Costa Rica, Purchase of land for refugees

2000, Brazil, Refrigerated storage unit

1999, India, Water storage system

1998, Mexico, Women's empowerment conferences

1997, Rwanda, Books

1996, El Salvador, Emergency medical care

1995, Pine Ridge, Child Care Playground

1994, Croatia, Women's Center

1993, Zimbabwe, Youth Industry

1992, Haiti, Electrical Power