Mission: South Dakota Voices for Peace builds power and enables healing in immigrant refugee, and Muslim communities by amplifying their voices in solidarity with all who dismantle bigotry and racism.
Vision: We imagine a South Dakota that is diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist.
SDVFP has four programming areas: Education/Training, Outreach/Civic Engagement, Legal Services, and Rapid Response. Here are some of our exciting areas of impact!
We have an amazing victory to share with all of you today! Our first unaccompanied minor asylum case has been approved! What does this mean? This means Jasmeline has lawful status, can apply for a greencard/Lawful Permanent Residency Status in one year, and the US Citizenship in 4 years! Jasmeline first came to our office in April 2021. We gathered all the necessary evidence and filed her asylum application in October 2021. We attended her asylum interview in Minneapolis in June 2022 and filed for her work authorization in June 2022. And she received her approval in early June 2023!
Jasmeline was so excited when she got the notice in the mail that she immediately took a screenshot and sent it to Lorena and asked her what it said as she just knew it was good news! She is so excited about her future. The joy in her face lit up our office. She is working and saving money so she can attend beauty school. Jasmeline never thought she could live out her dream until she physically had the work permit in her hand. She has fallen in love, is looking forward to getting married and starting her new family. She found out she is expecting a baby the same day she received her asylum approval notice. "God is good. Thank you for all of your work. Thank you."
Introducing Gigi Tavarez, Our New Program Manager!
Gigi is an advocate for the Multilingual Community and has always been someone who looks out for others and wants to serve others rather than just herself. Gigi helps both women and children as a Spanish translator for Safe Place Eastern South Dakota. She has been in South Dakota for the past 10 years and lives with her husband and three daughters. Gigi is driven and passionate about helping marginalized communities.
As the Program Manager, GiGi will be responsible for our Multilingual Outreach Program and the Affordable Connectivity Program.
SDVFP Awarded $50,000 Grant!
A $50,000 investment announced by the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation today aims to make internet access in the city more equitable.(Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation) The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation has awarded SDVFP a $50,000 grant to continue our work in helping make internet access in Sioux Falls more equitable by enrolling low-income households in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This is a federal benefit that offers a $30 discount ($75 if a household lives on tribal land) on a household's monthly internet bill. A household is eligible to receive this benefit if their income is at 200% or below the FPL or if they (or their dependents) are current recipients of: Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, Free and Reduced Lunch, and more! Read more about this news story here.
Medicaid Expansion goes into effect on July 1st! Go to getcoveredsouthdakota.org to learn more! As pandemic benefits are expiring, thousands of South Dakotans may become ineligible for Medicaid in the coming weeks. If you received a letter from DSS to renew benefits, please make sure to respond as soon as possible. If you have been disenrolled in Medicaid, applications for Medicaid Expansion are open on July 1st.
With the new South Dakota Medicaid rule changes, everyone on Medicaid must renew their coverage. Please visit dss.sd.gov to call or email your local office with updated contact information.
If you have a story to share about your Medicaid coverage loss or your experience of signing up for Medicaid Expansion please reach out to our Program Manager at Gigi@southdakotavoicesforpeace.org.
Please make sure to follow our social media platforms to stay up to date on the news and information about Medicaid Expansion.
COHORTS OF COURAGE: YOUTH ADVOCATES
Seven inspiring and brave youth participated in our Cohorts of Courage Youth Advocates program for BIPOC youth June 2-4th Professors, Legislators, Media, Lobbyists and Community Leaders shared their time and listened as the participants shared their passions and their stories. Hearing their hope, struggles, pain, and joy, emphasized the work that still needs to be done to bring our BIPOC youth into belonging.
SDVFP is continuing to strategize ways in which to enable healing and build power amongst our BIPOC youth!
BRIDGING DIVIDES INITIATIVE
Our Deputy Director, Jen Dreiske, was invited to attend the Princeton's Bridging Divides Initiative De-escalation and Community Safety Training June 22-23rd. Jen learned with trainers and mediators from across the nation the best practices on how to navigate complex and difficult conversations on dismantling bigotry and racism in political and potentially violent situations. Jen shared how SDVFP is doing the work to support our vision of SD becoming a diverse, inclusive and anti-racist state.
Our bystander to UPSTANDER Intervention training is a 60-minute introduction to responding in safe and impactful ways to acts of discrimination, hate, and bigotry, whether in the workplace, a public space, or at home. Participants learn how to safely disrupt these situations and bring the target of the incident back into belonging.
We provide these training sessions to educators, community organizations, business professionals and concerned citizens.
Our team, fluent in Spanish and Arabic, are enjoying meeting communities at the local festival events and introducing themselves to business and community gathering spaces. Please let us know of any opportunities for us to connect with our communities by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org