Not every student has the same opportunity to realize their potential; some may find themselves at a disadvantage because of their family’s finances. But now a huge gift from a Sioux Falls family will help make sure every student has the tools to succeed.
Steve Hildebrand, owner of Josiah’s Coffeehouse in Sioux Falls, recently launched the non-profit Promising Futures.
“We’re helping fund field trips for kids that normally a PTA in another school might fund,” Hildebrand said. “We’re implementing reading programs and books for kids to help keep a focus on early childhood learning and reading.”
His friends David H. and Christine Billion of Sioux Falls want to help that mission. That’s why they’re donating $1 million to three organizations: $150,000 to Promising Futures, $250,000 to the Hope Coalition which pays for kids to go to preschool and $600,000 to the Sioux Falls School District’s SIPPS program.
“Steve had this wonderful philanthropist in Mr. Billion saying, ‘We’ll help in that regard,’ so all those worlds aligned,” Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Brian Maher said.
The SIPPS program helps kids improve their reading skills.
“It can be one-on-one, it’s definitely small group, and it’s really a focus on phonics,” Maher said. “It’s a focus on the detail of learning how to read, so it is, it’s very intensive, it’s very teacher and student intensive.”
The gift, these men say, is going to change lives.
“This is going to have a pretty phenomenal, very quick impact on helping these kids in poverty get their kindergarten readiness up, get their third grade reading performance up, and our whole goal is let’s affect these kids in poverty at the very early years,” Hildebrand said.
“This is just a tremendous boost for the district, but it’s going to be an absolutely life-changing boost for many, many, many kids in this city,” Maher said.