"They have knives."

"They have knives."

"They have knives."

We started a new tradition on our Minot, ND, campus. The Saturday before Mother’s Day is “GROW Day,” or “God Rewards Our Work Day.” It is in its third year, and is fast becoming a favorite.

During the spring semester, students in the Botany, Science, and Career Tech classes all produce “product” for GROW Day. The Botany and Science students germinate, nurture, and repot flowers and succulents and beans and tomatoes… so many tomatoes. The Career Tech students make garden row signs and composting boxes and planters. Then on that special Saturday, our children and staff set up shop in the parking lot of our Minot Thrift Store. In five hours, they typically sell over $4,000 of their handmade and hand-grown products.

And, that is just the beginning. When school resumes in the fall, Mr. Hvidsten’s and Mr. Fagerlund’s Leadership Class serves as a grant committee tasked with distributing the funds raised on GROW Day. The class creates a grant proposal form and invites staff and departments from across the campus to apply. The cottages, food service, buildings and grounds, foundation and spiritual life, as well as other departments, request funding for special projects, equipment, or resources. Then, the Grant Committee/Leadership Class, facilitated by Mr. Hvidsten and Mr. Fagerlund, gathers the applications and puts them through a sophisticated review process.

First, they each read the applications and do a blind scoring as to the necessity of the request, number of people impacted, possibility of other funding, etc. They take the highest-scoring projects to the next step and review them as a group, re-score the top choices, and decide how much they will allocate to each project. This year, they had a little over $4,000 in proceeds to allocate.  

Once they have their recommendations, the grant committee presents their process, reasoning, and final decisions to an administrative team. This year, they presented to a team of three—Sheila Miller, VP of Finance, Facilities and Technology; Erinn Dosch, Communications Specialist/Grant Writer; and me. From the 15 original requests, they recommended funding five projects. Their presentation was organized and their process was impeccable. Not surprisingly, their biggest grant was for the purchase of new bicycles for residents – which were badly needed.

One part of the process was curious to me. During the blind scoring, the request for a “bun-slicer” for the food service department scored way above any other request. However, as they went through the discernment process, it ended up with no funding. So I asked the class, “Tell me about how that came to be. You had all scored it incredibly high, but after discussion, didn’t fund it. What changed your minds?”

The group was quiet, as at first, I think they thought I was suggesting they had done it wrong. So I continued, “I think you’ve made excellent choices. I am just always curious about how decisions are made.”

One of the quieter boys raised his head and looked me straight in the eyes, “Once we talked about it we decided they have knives. They can use those.”

Gosh, that’s hard to argue with.

I love these kids.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

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