UNITED WAY OF THE BLACK HILLS We fight for the EDUCATION of every person in the Black Hills to reach their highest potential.

DID YOU KNOW? Less than 50% of third graders are reading proficient in South Dakota.

At United Way of the Black Hills, we collaborate with many nonprofit organizations, school districts and child care providers to make sure all youth in the Black Hills have access to educational resources and programs to reach their highest potential. Continue reading to learn more about how we are making a difference in education.

Black Hills Reads is a United Way of the Black Hills education initiative. The overall goal is to help children reach reading proficiency by third grade and support partners in this process.

“It is said that children learn to read until third grade, then they read to learn. It is essential that children should be reading proficient by third grade so they can expand their knowledge,” says Kayla Klein, Black Hills Reads Director.

Black Hills Reads addresses reading through five pillar areas: School Readiness, Healthy Readers, Successful Parents, School Attendance, and Summer learning.

Black Hills Reads accomplishes these goals by providing advocacy for educational programs, offering pilot programs, special events and innovation grant opportunities.

Learn more about Black Hills Reads by watching the video below!


In addition, in 2019-2020, we invested in 13 services and programs that impacted 26,246 lives in the Black Hills

In addition to our Black Hills Reads Initiative, we collaborate and fund nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship, tutoring and after school opportunities. These programs allow children to learn more about their skillset and expand their future opportunities. Learn more below about how these organizations we fund are making a difference.

Starting Strong


Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons

Education Highlight Story

Club for Boys

When Gwendyllyn Smoke and her two sons (pictured) were homeless, the Club for Boys was a place where her boys could be just boys. After being evicted from their apartment of eight years, Smoke and her boys moved into the Cornerstone Rescue Mission until they could find another affordable place. The Club became a lifeline of encouragement and safety for the boys during the day.

“They understood we didn’t have a home. The Club was their getaway,” said Smoke.

Smoke and her boys, ages 9 and 11, are now in their own apartment, and the Club has continued to serve as a safe, reliable place for her boys to spread their wings.

How United Way of the Black Hills helps

UWBH provides funding to the Club for Boys to provide financial assistance to local families, such as the Smoke family, to participate in these programs. When you make a donation to UWBH, you are helping families like the Smoke family to reach their fullest potential.

Dolly Parton Imagination Library

The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a program funded by United Way of the Black Hills to allow children ages 0-5 to receive an age appropriate book mailed to their home once a month. When you donate to UWBH, you are helping children receive a book to those in need.

"We signed up for Imagination Library for our son when he was an infant. We loved getting a new book every month! His Dad, Sister and I took the time each month to write him a note on the inside the cover of the books to write what his milestones were or what he did that month or just to remind him how much we love him. It was fun to read the new books to him and it has been fun to go back and read the notes. As a toddler, he had some of the books memorized and now in elementary school, he is one of the best readers in his class." - Kelly (Northern Hills Parent)



At United Way of the Black Hills, we know our donors trust us to utilize their donations efficiently and effectively. We pride ourselves in our efforts to remain transparent. We are pleased to report that we have been awarded the highest possible rating by Charity Navigator for the 2019 and 2020 year. Charity Navigator evaluates charities on their financial health, accountability and transparency.