Lakota Children’s Enrichment (LCE)
When high school sophomore Maggie Dunne’s youth group volunteered to travel to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation, the 16-year-old thought she already had a good understanding of Native American communities. But after a single week, building homes and befriending community members, Maggie realized that she knew nothing about the state of Native Nations or their history.
Maggie’s experience that week awakened her not only to the grave injustice committed against Native Americans for generations but also to the specific atrocities performed by the U.S. Government against the Oglala Lakota, and which have left the Pine Ridge as one of the most disadvantaged Native communities in America. However, Maggie also saw that despite their hardships, their proud culture continued to thrive, as did their willingness to work for a better future.
Upon returning home to Westchester County, in 2008, the dauntless teen founded Lakota Children’s Enrichment (LCE), a non-profit organization dedicated to filling gaps in essential services and providing the youth of the Pine Ridge Reservation with opportunities for leadership and expression. LCE also provides awareness about the obstacles facing Native communities today.
After high school, Maggie attended Colgate University to major in Native American Studies, to provide herself with the education needed to be an informed advocate capable of understanding not only the history and policies on a local level but also recognizing the impact they had nationally and globally.
Since 2008, under her leadership, Maggie has seen LCE grow from a grassroots organization to one that runs programs involving 4000 Pine Ridge youths. Whether from LCE’s home base in Scarsdale, New York—where Maggie spends her time raising awareness, coordinating volunteers and creating partnerships to benefit the Reservation—or from Pine Ridge where Maggie organizes events, collaborates with the Native elders and community leaders and oversees LCE’s leadership-mentorship programs aimed at empowering Lakota youth and amplifying voices that have been silent for too long.
And it all started with a single week….