A solar installation at the Pine Ridge Girl's School, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
Why Pine Ridge?
In the very heart of the U.S., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, live the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) - considered amongst the most marginalized and poorest communities in the western hemisphere. Currently on Pine Ridge, roughly 86% of the population is unemployed, and 97% live far below the federal poverty line.
Average life expectancy is on the reservation is around 50 years, the teen suicide rate is 150% the national average, infant mortality is 300% the national average, 60% of homes are infested with black mold, 39% of homes don't have electricity, and 33% of homes lack basic water and sewer systems.
Why a Girl's School?
We chose to start with Anpo Wicahpi, the Girl's School on Pine Ridge, because research demonstrates time and again that one of the most effective ways to strengthen a community is to empower women - and what better place to start than with their youngest generation of leaders?
"Alumnae of all-girls schools often report the benefits of not being able to “hide” in their school. An all-girls environment allows the student to become comfortable with herself from the inside out, and that confidence feeds her self-worth and identity as a student capable of anything. Rather than remaining victims of circumstance many all-girls models are built around the mission of empowerment; and nearly 80% of graduates from girls’ school hold leadership positions after high school."
Anpo Wicahpi - The Pine Ridge Girl's School
About the School
Anpo Wicahpi or Morning Star - the brand new Pine Ridge Girls School - represents a beacon of enlightenment amidst the darkness of ignorance. They just opened the doors to their inaugural class in August of 2016.
"The Pine Ridge Girls' School seeks, through an academically rigorous program grounded in Lakota culture, language, and values, to empower the young women of Pine Ridge, and foster in them self-respect, a love of learning, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape their world.
Life can be hard on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Home to the Oglala Lakota, Pine Ridge is one of the most economically depressed places in the U.S. However, it is also one of the most culturally rich. The Lakota language still thrives in many ways, and ceremonial practices are common place. However, unless parents or grandparents pass these values onto their children, the next generation is on the brink of losing this strong cultural identity.
It is the hope of the school's founders to bring the opportunity for a high-quality academic education into alignment with the values and traditions of the Oglala Lakota so that the young women of the reservation will be equipped to help lead the Tribe out of its economic and social despair.
The Lakota values are strong -- particularly those of kinship and the preservation of Mitakuye Oyasin (the interconnectedness of all relations). However, most important are for the founders of the school, the students, the staff, and our supporters to be generous with our time & resources and to practice the wisdom necessary to make good decisions on behalf of our children. We ask you to join us in the fight to preserve an protect the values of this beautiful cutlture--because when you invest in girls, you invest in a whole community!"
The solar system we install at Anpo Wicahpi is planned to be 15kW and will provide the school with free electricity for years to come. That way they can take what they were paying to the electric company and keep those dollars local, using them to improve their school!
InOurHands has partnered with Henry Red Cloud of Red Cloud Renewables to install the solar system at the Pine Ridge School For Girls.
By paying local installers to complete the installation we keep the change local -- that's the way it should be.
The project is fully funded and is slated for install this July.
We look forward to funding more projects on Pine Ridge. Join our mailing list below to keep up with project developments, including upcoming plans on Pine Ridge!
Project: Affordable, Efficient Housing
The housing on Pine Ridge is in a state of terrible disrepair. Pine Ridge residents are forced to endure winter temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit. When the north wind blows, ice forms on the inside walls of houses, and it is not an uncommon occurrence for people to die from exposure in the dark in their own homes when they cannot afford their heating and electricity bills.
It became readily apparent that the only way to provide the people of Pine Ridge with adequate heat during the winter would be to replace the housing stock.
And we've found a way to do just that:
InOurHands is currently developing partnerships with solar installers and training companies in West Virginia.
The programs we're working on developing will train out-of-work and laid-off coal miners to install renewable energy systems.
Hard working West Virginians have sacrificed for generation after generation to help power our country.
It's on us to make sure they're not left behind. Let's share some love with them, and help them to achieve a secure future strongly rooted in sustainable employment!
Stay tuned on this front. Sign up for our newsletter below for updates on how our plans for coal country are developing!
The School For Girls on Pine Ridge is not the only educational institution we're aiming to support.
All across the Unites States and the world children go to school every day hungry, without books, and without hope for the future.
InOurHands is developing partnerships with student-run organizations and movements such as Zero Hour.
These groups will work to help InOurHands find the schools most in need so that we can provide them with renewable energy systems.
The savings produced from those systems will then go to support kids. It will buy them books, get them fed right, and build opportunities!
Sign up for our newsletter below, and we'll keep you up-to-date on how these projects are developing!