About Us

Why Thrive?

Sioux Falls’ quality of life and economic vitality depend on youth achieving their highest potential. Yet one-third of our school-age children face disadvantages that make educational and career achievement difficult if not impossible.

Sioux Falls Thrive’s mission is to help all children in the Sioux Falls area to have the same opportunities to succeed by working to provide stability in three key areas: out-of-school time, food security, and housing.

Thrive-facilitated collaboration harnesses a full spectrum of community leadership to realign existing resources, remove obstacles to student success, and foster opportunity for all children, from cradle to career.


Watch our 30-second video for a quick look at Thrive’s focus on children in Sioux Falls.

Cradle to career initiatives are designed to help school-age children reach their highest levels of academic and career potential.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the initiatives do not focus on what goes on in the classroom. That’s because the environment a child comes from has a profound effect on how well they do in school.

cradle to career

When a child’s family struggles to provide a safe home and adequate nutrition — or doesn’t have the ability to help with homework assignments — the child is not likely to come to school ready to learn.

Cradle to career initiatives begin by identifying situations that have a negative impact on a child’s academic success and bringing action teams together to engage in complex, cross-sector problem-solving.

Educational Milestones

KINDERGARTEN READINESS: Entering kindergarten ready to learn is a predictor of a child’s future educational attainment.

GRADE 3 READING PROFICIENCY: Up to third grade, one learns to read. After third grade, one reads to learn. Falling behind in reading in elementary school is an educational handicap few children overcome.

GRADE 8 MATH PROFICIENCY: Mastery of basic math skills is necessary to move on to algebra, and mastery of algebra is strongly linked to high school success and college enrollment.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION: High school graduates enjoy higher lifetime earnings and are less likely to depend on welfare or become involved in the criminal justice system than those who drop out.

POST-SECONDARY ENROLLMENT: Post-secondary education is the gateway to the middle class. To be successful in the global economy some sort of post-secondary education is necessary.

POST-SECONDARY DEGREE COMPLETION: A post-secondary degree or certificate is key to long-term financial gain, job stability, and success in and out of the workplace.

Since Its Beginning in 2017

Sioux Falls Thrive has worked to ensure our kids succeed in becoming all that they can be. We want all young people growing up in the metro area to be prepared to lead productive lives and give back to our community, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or zip code.

We Do That By:

Identifying obstacles to student success.

Conducting a comprehensive study of each obstacle through Augustana University Research Institute.

Convening cross-sector action teams charged with eliminating or significantly, permanently reducing the impact of that obstacle on student success.

Igniting strategies that make the most of existing community resources that support children and families in need.

The obstacles Thrive tackles are complex social issues — challenges tied to the growing income disparity that affects cities across the nation. The road is long, but our community is strong.

There’s no better time than today, there’s no better place than Sioux Falls to press on toward our children’s successful futures.

Sioux Falls Thrive Action Teams aim to improve the support systems on which children and their families depend. It’s a form of systems thinking defined in the book “Upstream” by Dan Heath.

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Our Leadership

Thrive leadership is accountable to the community.

Elementary Students Study

Our Volunteers

Nearly 200 community volunteers serve on Thrive-facilitated teams.

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Our Current Work

It’s been hard work, but Thrive’s efforts are producing real benefits.

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