Feature Stories

McCrossan Boys Ranch completes successful campaign

For decades, McCrossan Boys Ranch has assisted boys who have grown up with poverty, abuse, addiction, disability and even convictions. Students arriving at McCrossan’s come facing real barriers and may not have the capacity to envision themselves as being successful adults or as part of our growing economy. With their limited awareness of work and positive role models, students often don’t realize the connection between high school completion, positive lifestyle choices and their future successes.

The recently completed “Spur Success” campaign will extend opportunities to help McCrossan’s students receive the education necessary to propel their future and help fill necessary workforce shortages in our community.

Nearly $1.56 million was raised through Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Community Appeals campaign, surpassing goal by over $300,000. Thirty-seven percent of Chamber Community Appeal gifts were from new donors to McCrossan Boys Ranch. Many boys served by McCrossan’s remain local once they graduate. This resonated with many Chamber member businesses, as they are already hiring current or former McCrossan residents.

McCrossan Director of Development Christy Menning Vastenhout said the key to campaign success was the passion of more than 70 volunteers. “Many of our volunteers came out and spent time touring the Ranch, meeting our boys, hearing the stories of success and they were truly touched by the mission,” she said. “They shared this with the businesses and the support of our campaign and the many other things that came out of this process was heartwarming.”

Menning Vastenhout said that beyond raising funds, the campaign inspired donations in other forms. The heightened awareness of McCrossan led to boys finding jobs and the formation of a new trades scholarship.

“Thanks to one local orthodontist some of our boys are even going to be getting braces and one local business is planning to purchase gifts for graduations for the boys. It takes a village to raise a child and we are so glad we belong to this one,” said Menning Vastenhout.

The McCrossan school project will provide local at-risk students with significant barriers the opportunity to access up-to-date, engaging curriculum that is aligned with some of our state’s most pressing workforce needs and offer opportunities for students who can’t be served in the traditional public school setting.

Campaign proceeds will be used for a school addition that will feature a new art room with sinks and space to create, a new science lab/CTE hub with hands-on learning experiences, a multi-purpose room for assemblies, more space for teachers and expanded classrooms in all areas of learning. Recently, the junior class at McCrossan’s was so large, boys had to share the teacher’s desk because no desk space in the classroom remained.

“The biggest goal we have is to improve graduation rates throughout South Dakota, especially right here in Sioux Falls,” Menning Vastenhout said. “Our school is designed to help students who fall behind to catch up. Students benefit from small class sizes, individualized attention and well-qualified staff members working with them. Our teachers are caring and compassionate to each resident’s own special circumstances and needs.”

Also being constructed in an upcoming phase of the overall campaign will be a track/athletic field to offer student athletes the same resources and opportunities as those in other schools. McCrossan Boys Ranch is currently sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Throughout the campaign, it became apparent that many residents in the Sioux Falls area did not realize that McCrossan Boys Ranch had its own school, which is fully accredited through the South Dakota Department of Education and capable of issuing high school diplomas. Former alumni have attended Harvard, completed dental school and earned the local Build Dakota Scholarship. One alumnus was even the longest serving employee in Raven Industries’ history.

Menning Vastenhout said the structure of the Chamber Community Appeals program and the pool of volunteers interested in helping make a difference in our community is invaluable. “The business community understands the process and is excited to hear about the projects and willing to share how they can support.”