Happy Friday! Megan here.

Weather check: More rain on the way, but we might get a sunny weekend for once!

A Little Help update: Our inaugural "A Little Help" campaign has raised more than $4,600 to support Journey of Hope!! That's so close to our $5,000 goal, I just know we'll make it! Can you help?

This weekend, you'll find a round-up of all of the regional Fourth of July fun. You'll also find some big, big news from the Great Plains Zoo. And, you'll hear from other folks who are supporting Journey of Hope about their reasons for doing so.

And now, news:


This $25 million gift is a game-changer for the zoo's future plans

Simplified: The Great Plains Zoo took a big step closer to bringing a new aquarium, education center and butterfly rainforest to its campus thanks to a $25 million gift announced Thursday from billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

Why it matters

  • The gift announcement comes in the months after the zoo released a master plan to rethink the entire campus, as well as bring a new indoor aquarium as part of a recent merger with the Butterfly House and Aquarium.
  • The zoo this week is also celebrating the opening of the African lions exhibit – a project also helped by an earlier $1.5 million donation from Sanford.
  • The donation also helped fund construction of the new splash pad, which will be called the Denny Sanford Family Splash Pad.
“This gift is a game changer," CEO Becky Dewitz said. "And (it) will allow us to create a regional destination where people can gain an intrinsic understanding and appreciation of the natural world, while also providing families with a quality experience that is memorable and meaningful."

Tell me more


Why your neighbors are supporting Journey of Hope

Editor's note: This story is part of Sioux Falls Simplified's "A Little Help" give-back effort. We're sharing stories all month long about Journey of Hope with the goal of raising $5,000 to support the ongoing operations of this local nonprofit. You can learn more here and donate here.

Simplified: You've heard a lot about nonprofit Journey of Hope this month as part of Sioux Falls Simplified's inaugural A Little Help give-back campaign. Now, it's time to hear from others in the community about why this organization is worth supporting.

Tell me more

Journey of Hope is a nonprofit that meets people where they are to provide encouragement along life's journey.

Last year, for example, the nonprofit distributed 18,000 hygiene products and partnered with 33 agencies in Sioux Falls – including 11 schools.

And in the coming months, Journey of Hope plans to distribute hygiene kits to fifth graders at Title 1 schools citywide.

All that to say, they're doing a lot. And this month, Sioux Falls Simplified set a goal to help them raise $5,000 to further their mission.

But you've heard a lot from us, so we asked some other folks to share why they feel Journey of Hope is worth supporting.

Here's what they had to say


How to celebrate the Fourth of July in the Sioux Metro

This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: The Fourth of July brings with it some of the most beloved summer traditions. From parades to hot dogs to fireworks, here's a look at how the region is celebrating this year.

Why it matters

  • No one shines quite like a small town during the Fourth of July. Lennox, for example, draws a crowd of thousands from far and wide to enjoy its annual Independence Day festivities.
  • But while Lennox's celebrations may be the biggest, there are plenty of chances to celebrate and see fireworks displays across the Sioux Metro.
"The Fourth of July is an excellent opportunity to check out other communities in the greater Sioux Falls area," said Tyler Tordsen, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. "It's the pinnacle of small town fun with parades, street dances and fireworks displays."

What's happening in the region?

Find a full lineup of events here.


Super Simplified Stories

  • Get your tix. Single show tickets go on sale starting July 10 for the Washington Pavilion's line-up of Broadway shows in the 2024-25 season. Who's coming to "Hadestown" with me?
  • Show off your gaming skills. SDN Communications is hosting the inaugural edition of an all-ages esports tournament called SoDak Circuit on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Games include "Fortnite," "Valorant," and "Rocket League." Learn more here.
  • Check out the new bishop. The Catholic Diocese of Rapid City will soon have a new bishop. Pope Francis this week appointed the Reverend Scott E. Bullock, a pastor in Waterloo, Iowa, to the post. Learn more about him here.


What I'm falling for this weekend:


More Simplified Stories

Don’t want your kid staring at screens all day? This is the group for you.
A group of parents are advocating for a more low-tech approach to education both in and out of the classroom.
Stuff to do: June 26-July 2
Here’s a look at what’s happening this week.
How Journey of Hope is helping kids process trauma through art
It’s not about being “good” at art or completing a project to get a good grade, said Lisa Brunick, a longtime art teacher and licensed art therapist who leads the art session. It’s about feeling your feelings.


Support Sioux Falls Simplified

Here are a few ways to ensure this smarter, easier local news outlet is here to stay:

  • Forward this to a friend. Sharing is caring, and the best gifts are the ones that make your life easier – like this smarter, easier local news.
  • Become a member. Consider buying into a smarter Sioux Falls by becoming a member and offering financial support to the no B.S. journalism you've been reading here.
  • Give a one-time gift. Not ready to commit to a membership? That's OK! If you want to help in a smaller way, you can give a one-time gift via buy me a coffee. :)
  • Advertise with us. Tell the "simplified" story of your business to your target audience. Want more info? Reach out to megan@sfsimplified.com or check out our media kit.
Want the process to be even simpler? You can schedule a newsletter or event sponsorship right here with just a few clicks and a few questions.

Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or tips for keeping kids entertained during the summer to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Dakota Adventure Supply, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Panther Premier Print Solutions, Barre3 Sioux Falls, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.