Volunteer in South Dakota


You can become involved in youth development projects on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. You have the opportunity to contribute to activities at a youth centre to help create a viable future for the youth of the Lakota tribe. While sharing your knowledge and compassion you will gain an in-depth experience of the Lakota people and their culture that will stay with you the rest of your life.

I recommend the GVN partner organisation in South Dakota without hesitation. The kids are neat. They are vibrant and fun. The staff are helpful and committed. The activities here are many and varied but ultimately all made enjoyable by the energy and appreciation the children show.

Andrew | South Dakota Volunteer


Staff at GVN's partner organisation was absolutely wonderful! Very helpful, very friendly, very interested in what was going on with the volunteers. Just be flexible and open-minded; This was the best experience I've ever had and I think it can be that way for everyone if they have the right attitude!

Kaitlin | South Dakota Volunteer


Just Choose a Project and Apply!


The program fee covers all food and accommodation for the duration of the volunteering time. Volunteers are housed at either the youth or teen the centre in dormitory-style accommodation. There are currently 2 volunteer quarters which house 8 people each. Weekly food allowance cheques of US$50 will be issued to each volunteer, whereby the volunteer can purchase their own food at the local grocery store. In addition, the centre prepares meals for the children which volunteers can also share.

Generally, volunteers have Sundays off, but volunteers must be flexible about their work hours and days off as special events and staff/volunteer shortages occasionally require volunteers to work extra hours and/or days. Volunteers are free to do as they please on their days off and after their volunteer duties are done for the day. We encourage volunteers to see as much of the country as possible since there is a lot to see and do.

GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival.

Children and Youth

Children and Youth

Are you fascinated by native American culture? Do you want to learn more? Volunteers in our South Dakota program will work inside a reservation with children aged from 4 to 18 years old from . During the school term the youth centre is open in the afternoons and during the summer holidays it is open all day. There is no typical day at the centre and activities will vary according to the time of the year and how many children are at the centre. Activities include: Library time, arts and crafts, helping with homework, working in the organic garden, outdoor games, serving meals, fundraising drives within the community, helping with general upkeep of the centre. In addition, volunteers with particular skills, for example language or sporting skills, will be encouraged to implement their own programs with the children. Mornings will often involve some administration and maintenance duties. Volunteers in this program should be aware that days are often long and strenuous - you may be required to work up to 12 hours and at time the work is physically demanding.

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South Dakota Application Form


Apply Now: Step 1 of 3



Why GVN?


Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.

We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:

  • Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
  • Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 14 years experience in placing 19952 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
  • Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
  • Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
  • Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
  • Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.




How GVN works...


The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.

GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 14 years experience in the field.

At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in South Dakota and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.

Program Package

GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival. If signing up closer to the time, special arrangements can be made for the due date.

The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.

Your program package includes:


  • Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
  • Your Program Guide, with all the details on South Dakota and your placement.
  • Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
  • Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
  • Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.


  • Accommodation: Volunteer House.
  • Meals: Weekly Food Allowance (US$50/week for anyone who secured their spot in the program after June 1 2013 and US$20/week for anyone who secured their place before this date).
  • Airport pickup: On arrival date.
  • Training: In-country orientation and training.
  • Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
  • Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.


  • An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
  • Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
  • A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
  • The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
  • Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.

The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, departure from the program, airport departure tax.

We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.




Tell me more about the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation?

The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is located in the state of South Dakota in the United States of America. There are 9 Indian Reservations in South Dakota, of which Cheyenne River is the largest. The reservation was established by the Sioux Agreement Act of March 2, 1889, which divided the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations. Its boundaries include roughly 2.5 million acres of rolling prairie lands (about the size of Northern Ireland). The reservation has six representative districts and the district councils have an advisory role in tribal government. There are 17 communities outside of Eagle Butte, such as Cherry Creek, Red Scaffold, White Horse, Black Foot and Swift Bird.

Tell me more about the partner organisation?

The youth centre was founded in January 1988 in response to the community’s need for more services that support struggling children and their families. It was initially operated completely by volunteer staff and quickly became a vital element of the Cheyenne River Community. The organisation currently boasts two youth facilities, the Main Youth Centre for ages 4-12, and a teen centre. The youth centre is 4,560 sq. ft. facility provides an activity room, library, commercial grade kitchen, small computer lab, office space and volunteer quarters. The teen centre is a 26,000 sq. ft. Facility that includes an internet cafe, library, art studio, dance studio, full-seized gymnasium, commercial grade kitchen, a gift shop, office space, and volunteer quarters. In addition to the two facilities, the partner maintains a 2 ½ acre organic fruit and vegetable garden, and provides a Family Services program to the community.

What type of volunteer work is available?

Volunteers will be working full-time with the children and teens at the centre on a variety of activities such as mentoring, playing sports, arts and crafts, providing educational activities, working in the organic garden, serving meals and helping with homework. Volunteers will also help with the general maintenance and upkeep of the centre and will assist with office work. Volunteers with specific skills will be encouraged to implement their own programs with the children.

What age do you have to be to volunteer in this program?

Volunteers must be 18 or older to participate in this program.

When will I know specific details on the placement?

After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Program Specialist will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.

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About USA



South Dakota is located in the Midwest of the United States. It is bordered, clockwise, by North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. Named after the Sioux American Indian Tribes, the Lakota and the Dakota, South Dakota encompasses nine Indian Reservations within its borders, of which Cheyenne River is the largest.

The landscape of South Dakota is largely defined by prairies with tall grass and gently rolling hills. Its most famous landmark is Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of the state.

Development in South Dakota

The Cheyenne River Reservation is located in two of the five poorest counties in the U.S. Plagued by high unemployment rates (about 70%), the majority of households live at or below poverty level. The economy is largely tied to agriculture, mainly ranching and farming. While there are also several small commercial businesses (restaurant, hairdresser, convenience store, etc.), the two largest employers are the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Unlike many other Native American reservations in the U.S., Cheyenne River does not operate any casinos on their land, fearing a rise in alcohol and gambling addictions.

Housing on the Cheyenne River Reservation tends to be substandard and often accommodates extended families. While the national overcrowding rate in the U.S. is only 5.9%, overcrowding on the reservations can be as high as 27%.

Volunteer Impact

Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged Lakota youth, focusing primarily children and families living on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation.

As a volunteer in South Dakota you can provide love, affection, education and support to youth of the Lakota tribe.  You will help to improve education and skills ensuring that they learn and flourish.  As a volunteer you can contribute to administration and fundraising to benefit the functioning youth centre.  You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in a South Dakota community.

What else can I do in South Dakota?

Volunteers are recommended to plan their sightseeing before or after their program dates.

South Dakota's most famous landmark is Mount Rushmore, with its' sculpture carved into the granite face featuring the heads of former United States presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.


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