New SDSBVI project receives second grant from S.D. governor

ABERDEEN, S.D. – A second $2.5 million state grant has been awarded for construction of the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, part of the school’s joint Educational Impact Campaign with Northern State University.

The grant, announced Wednesday by Gov. Kristi Noem, comes from the Governor's Office of Economic Development Future Fund.

“I’m grateful for the leadership and partnership of Northern State University and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired,” said Noem. “I’m confident their shared vision for success will create an even stronger powerhouse for education in the northeast part of our state. This grant will ensure the continued legacy of quality education and excellent student engagement for years to come.”

The grant follows the same amount awarded last year from the same fund by former Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Together, they match the city of Aberdeen's pledge of $5 million to the Educational Impact Campaign.

“Each of these gifts hinged on the other, and this type of interconnected giving is a perfect example of the all-encompassing support we’ve received for the Educational Impact Campaign,” said NSU President Dr. Tim Downs. “We’re grateful to both governors, the city and to the donors around the region for their continued commitment to Northern and the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.”

SDSBVI Superintendent Marje Kaiser expressed gratitude as well.

“It’s wonderful to receive this level of support from not one but two governors along with the city, and I can’t thank them enough,” Kaiser said. “I’m thrilled that they recognize how beneficial this project will be not only to our students but also to the region, as a new facility will ensure we’ll be able to remain in Aberdeen.”

Campaign Update

Earlier this month, Noem signed House Bill 1037, authorizing the South Dakota Board of Regents to contract for the construction of the sports complex on the NSU campus. The bill’s approval moved forward the final project of the Educational Impact Campaign, which first kicked off in fall 2017.

The campaign involves three projects funded entirely by non-legislative donations. Besides the sports complex, that includes the Athletic and Recreation Fields project, which opened in fall 2018, and the new SDSBVI, currently under construction at the former NSU Jerde Hall site. So far, the $55 million campaign has received pledges totaling more than $44 million.

“These projects will enhance the student experience for years to come and also be a tremendous boost for the entire region,” Downs said. “It’s a game-changing time for northeast South Dakota.”

Strong Support

Support has been strong throughout the campaign, with numerous pledges from individual donors and area businesses – support that was recognized at HB1037’s hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations. Sen. Justin Cronin said the fact that the whole region is supporting this project is immense.

“You should be very proud of your alumni and of your community,” Cronin said.

Sen. Brock Greenfield agreed, saying, “Here’s a case in point in which the people have said this is how they want to spend their money. I wholly support and endorse that, and I wish the folks at Northern well with this project, and the folks of the region well because a lot of people will be benefiting from this for years and years to come.”

For more information about improvement projects at Northern, visit NSU Campus Master Plan.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.