St. Joseph's Indian School

Rating: 2.76 stars   17 reviews

Issues: Education, Religion

Location: 1301 N. Main St PO Box 89 Chamberlain SD 57325 USA

Mission: Since 1927, St. Joseph's Indian School has been serving the Native American people in South Dakota. By responding to the needs of the whole child through an enriched and integrated living and learning environment, we provide opportunity for a balanced, healthy lifestyle through education, group home living, the development and appreciation of spirituality and culture, and the promotion of personal growth and self-esteem.
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a donor to this organization for 15 years. It came to my attention when I visited the Akta Lakota Museum at the same location, passing through the school grounds on my way. I have made numerous visits since then. What I see on these visits are bright, healthy, happy children, learning in a safe and positive environment. It is clear to me that the school is doing a wonderful job.

Regarding some of the criticisms I see here, I'd like to make these comments:

1) I agree that they send way too many mailings. I wish they'd cut back.
2) Having said that, I think their overall expenditures are appropriate. I spent the largest part of my career (34 years) as a budget analyst and accountant for an educational institution. St. Joseph's expenses are well in line with what I'd expect to see.
3) One person remarked on the "threatening" tone of one solicitation. Having grown up next to a Reservation (Onandaga) in upstate New York, and having seen the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations myself, I can attest to poverty which must indeed have led to difficult circumstances for some of these students.
4) One post suggested that positive reviews must be concocted by people associated with the charity. I have no association other than being a donor, and never have had any association other than being a donor and a visitor.

All in all, I'm delighted to continue to support this fine organization.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have donated to this charity for years. Just yesterday, I received a very nice telephone call from the school thanking me for all the years I've supported them. I have never received and "gifts" or other such items from them. I believe they are an honest, worthwhile charity. They are helping children who would otherwise be left behind.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 2 stars  

20 people found this review helpful

Last year was the first year I received a letter with several 'free gifts" requesting a donation to the school. Having just been hospitalized, I was particularly cognizant of my resources. Our family gives alternate gifts: there a wheelchairs made from bicycles in India and Africa; students in this country in Youth Build getting a new start: completing a HS diploma or GED plus training apprenticeships in trades, nursing; Doctors Without Boarders and Heifer Project-each given in honor of a family member. I seriously considered St. Joseph's since I've been adopted into a Lakota Sioux family and am now Winyan Wasaka [strong woman], that is until a received a second letter from the chaplain which I sensed
to be unusually threatening because I had not responded to the initial letter. Further research revealed
what other persons about their accounting practices. I've chosen to give me limited resources to another Native American project this year.

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Rating: 5 stars  

21 people found this review helpful

I have read some earlier posted reviews and they do not seem accurate.
I help these people and they are great.
The people running the school are kind and very passionate about what they do.
My suggestion is to just call them and ask where your money is going, you may be surprised at how much they do for these children.

-DC

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

56 people found this review helpful

I started donating a few years ago because I thought they were doing a good service to the Indian community. I have since then received tons of unsolicitated junk...dream catcher, lousy blankets etc... When I found out that they go all the way to solicitating donations from my family in Europe, I realized that very little of what I donated goes to the cause. I stopped donating about 5 yrs ago but still regularly receive junk from them. I suggest you look them up and.....send your money somewhere else! This organization is definitely not worth receiving donations!

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Rating: 1 stars  

44 people found this review helpful

We also have received numerous extravagant give packets from St. Joseph's Indian School. Although we made a small donation once long ago, we will not do so again. This last gift packet was the last straw. It included a form "letter" from a child at the school (obviously written by an adult) which blatantly says the child's home and family would not be a safe place to live. Here is the actual wording of the form letter:

"Dear Ms.________, Things are so fun here at St. Joe's. I like the other girls, we giggle at each other all day. I asked my teacher if I could write you and tell you about the school. My name is Stacy. I'm 12. Anyway, I've only been at St. Joe's for a couple of months. I's so warm and safe, not like my house on the reservation. School's awesome. I have lots of things to do and read. I really, really, like the science project I'm doing with Tasha and Tommy. The food is good here. What I enjoy most is the campus home I share with 11 other girls and my houseparents. My bed is so comfortable. I know I don't have anything to worry about when I go to sleep!
"Well I have to go now but I'll pray for you when I pray for my mom, my sister and my uncle. And thanks a lot! Love, Stacy"

I wonder if the children's families know what is being said about them. We find this unconscionable. That, and the lavish gifts intended to solicit by guilt. The money used for these mailings could benefit the Lakota people and their children… and their families deserve more respect than this.

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Rating: 1 stars  

30 people found this review helpful

REgardless of whether they are religious or not, if they want more donors they need to be more trnasparent with a 3rd party audit for how much money (percent) goes to the people they are helping.
Old data suggests that they are very self serving with 34-55% going to the people they want to help. This nobel group needs to make significant improvements.

Was your donation impactful?

No

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

113 people found this review helpful

A few days ago, I received an extravagant packet from this organization, including return address stickers, notepads, a dreamcatcher keychain, and more. Never having heard of nor received an solicitations from this organization before, I considered making a donation until I started checking them out. The only info I could find was from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) (http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/not-accountable-not-commandment.html), which had info only from audited statements of 2004. These showed that St. Joseph's Indian School used roughly 34% of its budget on programs that directly benefited those whom it purports to help. Based on this info, AIP awarded them an F rating, noting that the majority of the organization's donations are used for fund-raising.

Armed with this knowledge, my decision to donate or not became quite easy, because I refuse to contribute to any organization that uses such a paltry portion of its donations to actually help people.

Was your donation impactful?

No

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 1 stars  

36 people found this review helpful

Less than 55% of this charity's money is returned in services. They do not regularly disclose their financial statements. It is impossible to be removed from their mailing list (after 18 months of asking!).

To me they are clearly a direct marketing machine that primarily feeds the administrative staff of the charity and not the children they contend to support. Find another place to put your money.

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

38 people found this review helpful

We have been donating to St. Joe's for about 30 years. The staff is extraordinary...really giving of themselves to make the kids there stronger. We visit a minimum of once a year, most often twice and we feel priviledged to be able to see how well the kids are cared for. They accept very little federal money, so they need all of us to help donate...it does take a village...every little bit helps.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?