Simplified: Lutheran Social Services and the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls on Friday announced a plan to merge as soon as September. While the organizations wait for the boards to approve the plan, here's what the hope is for both nonprofits.

Why it matters

  • LSS and the MCC both offer Sioux Falls citizens with similar programming like employment, translation services, community outreach and English language classes.
  • The MCC's interim executive director Laurie Knutson said she's looking for a way to help the organization with "backroom services" like accounting and human resources.
  • LSS President and CEO Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen said the organization makes over $24 million a year, which will help back up the services of the MCC's smaller donation base.
“We're hopeful that by aligning with an organization like LSS, those types of functions can be more in the background and we'll be able to devote much more of our time and energy towards our programs and services and our overall community engagement," Knutson said.

Tell me more about what each organization does.

LSS offers adoption, behavioral health, refugee services, interpreters, mentorship programs, housing help and more for South Dakotans, but Kiesow-Knudsen said most of their work focuses on refugees.

MCC focuses on building a stronger community that's welcoming of all cultures, and does more community outreach like the annual Festival of Cultures, translation or interpretation and help with immigration.

What will the merger look like?

Knutson said the MCC will keep its own name and branding, but that some of the services will combine with LSS.

  • Kiesow-Knudsen said a lot of LSS programming focuses on refugees, but the MCC has more expansive options for all members of Sioux Falls.
  • The MCC will still host the annual Festival of Cultures and do other community outreach events, just with the administrative backing of LSS.

Decisions on the location and offices of the MCC will be decided when and if the merger officially goes through.

“They work with a lot of the clientele that we work with, and some of the services and programs and community work that we do is an extension of what LSS has started," Knutson said.

What happens next?

Over the next 90 days, both organizations will iron out the details on joining the services, what their facilities will look like and what roles employees will have. Both nonprofits are led by a board of directors who will have to approve the merger before any real changes can take place.

  • If the boards agree, LSS and the MCC will begin the process of joining the two nonprofits.
"Anytime we can accomplish this scaling of a smaller organization into a larger one, it makes the use of the dollars or the stewardship of the dollars that come into support the respective missions of the organizations just be deployed more efficiently into the community," Kiesow-Knudsen said.