May 6, 2011 – Concluding more than 3 months of internal study and consultations brought on by the decision of Sky Ranch for Boys to cease operations due to declining placements, Sky Ranch Foundation has renewed its determination to make an important contribution to programs nationwide that are helping troubled boys and girls. A Strategic Planning Committee under former Foundation Chairman George McCarthy has worked since mid-January to identify and define the right new mission for the organization. Foundation President, Ralph Aguera announced the new Mission Statement:
“Building on a 50+ year tradition, Sky Ranch Foundation is committed to giving troubled youth a second chance by identifying and offering financial aid to efficient and effective programs focused on improving the present quality of help available to these youth. We will continue to strive to be the uniting force for aid to troubled youth within the alcohol beverage and related industries and reflect our industry’s great concern and commitment without commercial self interest or promotion to the youth of America.”
Mr. Aguera also announced the first grant awarded under the new plan is a $75,000 commitment to a surviving piece of the Sky Ranch Program – the Sky Ranch Reunification Program in Sioux City, Iowa. He described the Reunification program as “A highly effective and innovative project helping kids at risk to avoid the need for out of home placement, and helping those who have been sent to residential programs continue their progress once they return home. We’re especially happy to announce that the Sky Ranch Reunification Program is already working with several troubled young ladies, (in addition to young men) helping them turn their lives around.”
The Foundation notes that there are over 100,000 young people who have been sent to residential placement programs nationwide. Many states are cutting resources for helping these young people, raising the risk many will fail to correct their behavior and present even more serious danger to society and themselves once they become adults. Under their new plan, Sky Ranch Foundation will consider grant requests from qualified programs around the country. A $56,000 contribution has already been received and has been earmarked to help qualified programs in California. The Foundation expects to resume normal fundraising appeals very soon.
Ralph Aguera summed up developments this way; “We are heartbroken to see the end of Sky Ranch for Boys, but we are committed to keep doing everything we can with the support of the generous people of our industry to make a real difference in the lives of the coming generation, to make sure as many troubled kids as possible get the help they need to become responsible, productive adults.”
January, 6, 2011 – Sky Ranch For Boys issued the following statement today:
We are deeply saddened to report that our program will cease providing residential treatment and educational services for troubled teens in the first part of 2011. This painful decision was a result of the trend away from the kind of residential treatment program Sky Ranch offers in favor of less expensive, community based alternatives for kids in trouble and at risk. The Ranch is currently caring for less than 20 boys (down from 40 a few years ago) and that number is expected to decline sharply in the weeks ahead as states implement new budget policies. Although exacerbated by the recession, this does not appear to be a short term trend.
Sky Ranch Foundation leadership was closely consulted on the decision. The Foundation has assured the Sky Ranch for Boys Board that they will give as much help as possible so that the remaining boys at Sky Ranch are well cared for as the program is wound down in coming months. The Foundation will also assist the Sky Ranch Board as appropriate to make sure the dedicated employees of Sky Ranch are provided for.
Everyone concerned recognizes the great impact this will have on the local community as well as the staff and their families. Every conceivable alternative to closing was examined by Sky Ranch management, the Sky Ranch Board of Directors and by the leadership of the Foundation. Even with the continued generosity of Sky Ranch Foundation supporters who have contributed well over $20 million to help Sky Ranch in the past 50 years, the ranch needs more boys than are likely to be sent there.
Sky Ranch for Boys has been helping troubled kids since 1960, primarily on a campus and ranch owned by Sky Ranch Foundation on the South Dakota/Montana border. Sky Ranch Foundation, whose membership and contributors are primarily associated with the alcohol beverage industry, has provided the facility and as much as 35% of the annual operating budget of Sky Ranch for Boys since shortly after the Foundation was established in 1961.
The Sky Ranch Foundation plans to continue helping troubled youth by offering grants to outstanding programs across the United States. Sky Ranch Foundation President, Ralph Aguera said; “The decision to close Sky Ranch was extremely difficult for all concerned. For 50 years this program has been helping kids who others had given up on. We believe the positive spirit of Sky Ranch deserves to continue and to guide us in our efforts to help those in need. We will retain the name Sky Ranch Foundation even after the Ranch closes. This will help us and those who support our work to always remember what brought us together and to strive for the highest standards in all that we do. The people of the alcohol beverage industry are tremendously generous and we hope they will continue supporting Sky Ranch Foundation as we move into a new phase of our mission. Our goal is to continue and expand the great legacy of Sky Ranch by supporting the very best programs for troubled girls and boys nationwide.”