Thrive traces its roots to Sioux Falls Tomorrow 2014, a community-based planning project. Over 100 volunteers ─ known as stakeholders ─ developed a 10-year vision and goals for the Sioux Falls area. Their work was informed by experts in various aspects of community life and by more than 2600 responses to a public survey.
Chief among the concerns of the stakeholders who worked on educational strategies and goals was the need to confront growing poverty. As the group observed in their final report, “As income disparity grows, pressures on families increase, making it hard to engage them in their children’s education and negatively impacting student success.”
The following year, Forward Sioux Falls, a joint venture of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Sioux Falls Development Foundation, came to a similar conclusion with respect to K-12 education, noting, “An increasingly low-income population with a growing percentage of limited-English-proficiency students challenges K-12 educators to effectively present career opportunities to these youth and train them for college and the workplace.”
Forward Sioux Falls’ Strategic Workforce Agenda called for the creation of a cradle to career coalition, an initiative that quickly gained support from Sioux Empire United Way and Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, which agreed to house the project through development phases.
In January 2017, Sioux Falls Thrive became an independent, nonprofit organization.