SDSU awarded grant to support early childhood education

SDCF photo: Pictured, from left, front row: Jamie Farmen, community development coordinator, SDCF; Pat Crawford, director, SDSU School of Design; Kay Cutler, professor/director SDSU Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education; and Jeff Veltkamp, director of development, SDCF; back row: Barb Heller, lecturer and entrepreneurship coordinator, SDSU Department of Economics; Craig Silvernagel, assistant professor, SDSU Department of Economics; Roxanne Lucchesi, professor, SDSU School of Communication and Journalism; and Todd Letcher, assistant professor, SDSU Department of Mechanical Engineering.

PIERRE – The South Dakota Community Foundation presented a $10,000 Community Innovation Grant to South Dakota State University. 

Offered in partnership with the Bush Foundation, the Community Innovation Grant program supports efforts to find breakthrough solutions to community challenges across the state. The grant will provide partial support for the Rich Normality Design Collaborative (RNDC) initiative which focuses on prototype development to enhance early childhood education.

“By bringing together industry, community, faculty and students to explore cutting edge ideas, the Rich Normality Design Collaborative will generate uniquely positioned graduates and marketable products catered to underserved populations in South Dakota”, said Angela McKillip, Program Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Interior Design, SDSU. “The RNDC believes that students want to put their efforts into problems that matter. Real-world constraints and commitments accelerate their learning, while serving needs within our communities. We are grateful for the vision of the South Dakota Community Foundation and thankful for their support of this collaborative.”

This project will span an entire academic year. It focuses on engagement between elders and children. During each phase, refined prototypes are discussed and tested by both elders and children. During phase two, students and faculty engage in product testing, short run production, marketing development and debut of products. The project brings four generations together (university undergraduate students, university faculty, elders living in assisted living centers and children attending pre-school and elementary school) in the development of intergenerational products to be used in education centers and assisted living environments.

A total of $400,000 will be available to nonprofits in 2019 through the Community Innovation Grant program. The first round opened Jan. 14 and closes Feb. 15 with successful applicants announced at the end of April. Visit our website at to learn more about eligibility guidelines, deadlines for 2019 and application instructions.

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