Kid Link


Kid Link Goals

  • Identify needs and wants of families in underserved neighborhoods
  • Form an initiative charged with addressing needs using existing resources
  • Implement changes
  • Measure the change in student performance

Kid Link Pilot Ends: New Opportunities Begin with Community Learning Centers

Kid Link Guiding Principles

Establish trust and credibility with the school and neighborhood community.

Build relationships in the community with dignity and respect.

Engage the school and neighborhood community in identifying wants, needs and potential solutions.

Align existing resources to develop sustainable outcomes for each neighborhood.

Kid Link Riverside Outcomes

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Kid Link Riverside demonstrated a collaboration of agencies that provided enriching out-of-school activities for 50+ kids each week. An expanded 5-day-per-week after-school program enhances the existing offering from Kids Inc. at LBA.

Weekly activities were organized every Tuesday by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire to include programming provided at no cost from several organizations, including Move to Heal SD, Sioux Falls Parks & Rec, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, First Tee, community volunteers, LBA parents and so many others. Volunteers generally numbered 15-20 individuals who assisted with setup, cleanup and encouraging students.

Over time, volunteers established a communications strategy that included email, social media, connections to key employers, a relationship with school staff, and intensive neighborhood outreach.

  • Three of the new Feeding South Dakota mobile food pantries are in or near this neighborhood. A follow-up survey confirmed these sites are more convenient than previous sites, including the former food pantry building.
  • Faith Temple Food Giveaway and the Helpline Center used a United Way Worldwide grant to offer a delivery solution for those families without transportation or other barriers to accessing charitable food.
  • Volunteers served a hot meal from the Nightwatch food truck to more nearly 200 individuals every Tuesday night.
  • Sermon on the Mount Mennonite Church hosted a food giveaway every Tuesday. Food for this program was collected by Bread Break Ministry from several local businesses.
  • Faith Through Frames provided quick-print photo IDs that are accepted by Feeding South Dakota for food giveaways.
  • The Salvation Army food pantry expanded food choices to include ethnic options and stopped requiring photo IDs to receive food.
  • Church on the Street provided a comprehensive printed flyer to help people more easily find a place to have a meal or receive a food package.
  • For the summer of 2021, the Boys & Girls Club and the USDA provided food boxes to families, regardless of income. Each box included 7 days of suppers and snacks for each child in the household. Delivery was available on Tuesdays at LBA or to the family’s home.

A critical outcome for this demonstration initiative was to develop a sustainable group of parents and other adults who could grow their own leaders and support their neighborhood school. Beginning in the summer of 2021, Kid Link tested the use of an operations manager to build rapport in the neighborhoods and increase participation.

Kid Link Riverside events developed into family nights where kids and adults engaged in activities together. Volunteers modeled appropriate ways to interact with and teach children. And a local church congregation became a community center once again. All with one goal in mind: supporting the academic potential for students attending LBA.

What Did Kid Link Do for Children?

Thrive’s leadership adopted a neighborhood approach to collaboration that produced immediate benefits for school-age children. The Kid Link initiative worked to realign community resources to better serve children and their families.

Outcomes have included increased collaboration between non-profits and the school district, a reliable schedule of weekly educational activities for kids and families, and 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
  • Snacks
  • Parent Education and Engagement
  • Bookmobile
  • Food Giveaway
  • Free Hot Meal To Go

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: a demonstration project that brought parents and families together to tackle common obstacles to student success.

Kid Link opened at Terry Redlin Elementary School in October 2022 alongside the school district’s new strategy for regular after-school programming through Kids Inc., Volunteers of America and the Boys & Girls Club. Through a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District, in 2022 Kid Link became the prototype for a Community Learning Center model that is now being offered in every elementary school across the district.

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