Kid Link activities — like the new Community Learning Center programs — changed with seasons and themes. Above, a warm summer afternoon was a good time for students to test the properties of water using a game board full of funnels and tubes.
As the Kid Link pilot ends with Sioux Falls Thrive, the programs available to local kids are growing more than organizers could have dreamed. While this signals the closing of the weekly walk-in program, it is the beginning of many more opportunities for Sioux Falls students.
With the start of the 2023-24 school year, Kid Link will change from a Tuesdays-only event to an expanded daily afterschool program for more elementary students than ever before. Scholarships and openings are still available for the new Community Learning Centers in neighborhood schools.
Participation will be free for students who qualify.
To enroll for the 2023-24 school year, call (605) 367-4424.
The Community Learning Center mission is to make a difference in the Sioux Falls community by uniting voices, resources, and programs that enable and empower students and families to reach their full potential. Funding comes through tuition, support from 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, Title I funds, City of Sioux Falls, United Way and matching resources from local funders and community-based organizations.
Children and families can expect activities at their Community Learning Center to be similar to Kid Link:
- Supervised, safe programming
- Skill building with challenging activity levels
- Site-based activities
- Exploration of individual interests through a wide range of activities
- Nutritious snacks
However, there will also be much more available, including:
- A focus on large and small group games and active play
- City-wide field trips
Volunteer Work Continues
Kid Link programming has been successful because of the work of so many volunteers in both locations. That need will change somewhat, but it will not decrease.
Children will always need loving, safe adults in their lives. Current Kid Link volunteers should contact the agency lead at their preferred school site. If you’re interested in joining their ranks, click here.
Who are the Community Learning Center Partners?
The Community Learning Center is led by an Advisory Board made up of community agencies and stakeholders, with oversight by the Sioux Falls School District. Lead Agency partners who will manage the program at various schools include:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire
- Volunteers of America (VOA)
The Siouxland Libraries Bookmobile participates in Kid Link activities. Here, it’s parked near the Nightwatch Food Truck where volunteers serve meals in the Riverside neighborhood.
How Did Kid Link Start?
In late 2019, leadership at Sioux Falls Thrive adopted a neighborhood approach to collaboration that produced immediate benefits for school-age children. The Kid Link initiative was designed to realign community resources to better serve children and their families.
- Increased collaboration between non-profits and the school district
- A reliable schedule of weekly educational activities for kids and families
- A new prototype for after-school programs in all Sioux Falls elementary schools.
Kid Link began in 2020 in the Riverside neighborhood. A series of summer events at Laura B. Anderson Elementary School introduced the initiative and its volunteers. Activities included weekly visits from the Bookmobile and special guests, and twice monthly free hot meal service.
In the fall of 2020, amidst a global pandemic and colder weather, Sermon on the Mount Mennonite Church graciously offered to host indoor after-school activities for children and parents. Everyone was welcomed to safely join the group for:
- Educational Activities, Games and Crafts Focused on Math, Literacy, Science and Fun
- Parent Education and Engagement
- Food Giveaway
- Free Hot Meal To Go
It’s All About Collaboration
None of this could have happened without the collaborative work of more than 100 volunteers. These passionate leaders represented more than 40 businesses and organizations, but also included dozens of advocates from across the community.
Their goal: focus on cradle-to-career milestones using a demonstration project that brought parents and families together to tackle common obstacles to student success.
Through a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District, in 2022 Kid Link became the prototype for the Community Learning Center model that has been developed for every elementary school across the district. Kid Link opened its second location at Terry Redlin Elementary School in October 2022 alongside the school district’s new strategy for regular afterschool programming.