In 1958, parents of children with intellectual disabilities were faced with a decision: send them away to a state institution, or keep them home where they would have no access to education, employment, recreation, or social interaction.
It was this lack of choice that led Mrs. J. S. Kibben and other parents and friends of children with disabilities to start Rapid City’s first special education program in the basement of her home. That is when our journey began.
We purchased the building we now call “The Learning Institute” on Range Road in the early 1960s, centralizing the growing special education program.
In the early 1970s, work began on the first supported home at Black Hills Works, setting the tone of supportive, welcoming homes where people can live independently while still being among the community that we hold dear to this day.
In the 1980s, we established The Brain Rehabilitation Center, the only of its kind in western South Dakota.
Our Resource and Support Center building was built in the early 1990s across the street from The Learning Institute as an overflow space for the over 300 people we supported at that time. Over the next few years, it transitioned into the office space it is today.
Today, we support nearly 600 people with disabilities through residential, employment, healthcare, and recreational support. We have over 30 homes, five enterprises, two-day service buildings, and two office spaces throughout the city. What started off as a dream for eight children in the basement of Mrs. Kibben’s home has turned into one of the largest community support providers in the state of South Dakota.