Al Éxito

Al Éxito (AÉ) is the only statewide organization whose mission is the empowerment of Iowa Latinos through education, college attainment, and success for Latino families. Al Éxito Des Moines Afterschool Program (AÉDM) in partnership with Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) serves seven metro middle schools weekly asset-based, culturally-relevant programs, facilitated by Spanish-speaking teachers in a safe environment. AÉDM motivates, inspires, and prepares over 150 DMPS Latino students, the fastest-growing population, to succeed in school, transition for a successful high school experience, and create a clear path for higher education. AÉ goals are to increase 1) school attendance, 2) academic achievement, 3) parental involvement, 4) graduation from high school, and 5) enrollment in post-secondary education. AÉ believes achieving these goals will significantly increase the number of Latino youth who successfully graduate from high school and go on to earn college degrees. AÉ developed key strategies to reach our goals: 1) Weekly afterschool programs 2) Mentorship with college experienced professionals; 3) Parent Engagement, to bridge the gap for families; 4) Interactive College Visits; and 5) enrichment programs and experiences. Al Exito is committed to motivate and prepare middle and high school Latinas/Latinos for post-high school education and the potential for economic security, civic engagement, and a stable family life.

Art Force Iowa - DSM Heroes

DSM Heroes offers a holistic, arts-based community for refugee, immigrant, and first-generation American-born youth who are survivors of trauma. The program offers weekly workshops where youth explore and create with professional artists, develop work and life skills, and form positive relationships with mentors. Youth choose from 12 hours of workshops in a variety of disciplines (visual, performing, and digital arts). These small group apprenticeships allow youth to work closely with an artist who shares common interests. At the weekly large group workshop, youth learn and improve upon community-building and life skills through arts-integrated activities. As mentor-mentee relationships develop, staff and artist-mentors advocate for these youth at home, in schools, and in the community. DSM Heroes is based on evidence that participation in arts programs increases the quality of life and academic and civic engagement, resulting in better grades and an increased likelihood of attending college. ArtForceIowa seeks to "transform youth in need through art" by creating arts outreach programs for at-risk youth."


Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa at Hiatt & McCombs Middle School

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa at Hiatt & McCombs middle schools provides students enriching after-school/summer experiences, positive adult relationships, and the developmental skills needed to be successful adults. They seek to ensure young persons are involved in positive activities during out-of-school time and are improving their school attendance and academics. The Boys & Girls Club works to mentor students through positive grade transition and high school graduation. Almost 70% of the families they serve have a total household income less than $10,000. Today, they reach more than 2,000 central Iowa youth ages 5-19 from 44 local schools through membership and outreach. Their Clubs offer hands-on educational and experiential enrichment every day after school, as well as all-day programming during the summer and other breaks. Homework help, leadership opportunities, computer access, and a plethora of age-appropriate activities including arts and sports are offered at Club every day.


By Degrees Foundation

Housed in the Northside Cohort Schools, By Degrees Foundation works deeply with their school programming and staff to increase student college and career readiness skills, provide college and career community connections, and offer students and families seeded college savings accounts.


Des Moines Public Schools – Community School Coordinators

Each Des Moines high school has a community school coordinator to foster, strengthen and maintain the bridge between the school and community. Coordinators are the liaison and connector for areas such as parent/family engagement, community engagement, youth development, mental health, after-school programming, and mentoring. As District employees, the Coordinators have access to the District’s EIS (Early Indicator System) allowing them to make data-driven decisions. Coordinators focus on the highest-need students while also fostering programming that ensures all students stay engaged and connected to school.

Des Moines Public Schools - SAY

AY: Spoken Word + Street Art Community is an innovative program that inspires and empowers students to strengthen literacy skills while fostering artistic and personal growth as well as civic engagement. This progressive method of teaching engages and motivates students in new ways that are relevant to their lives outside of the classroom, offering them a safe space to express themselves. With the addition of a street art workshop, Des Moines Public School youth will be given a visual voice within the community, allowing them to grasp issues facing urban communities and produce works that create dialogue in the larger community.


Genesis Youth Foundation

Message from Sam Gabriel (Co-founder). “I came from the Ivory Coast as a refugee and soccer was my motivation when coming to the US. I played for Iowa United for a year but my parents were limited in not only their written and spoken English but also the hidden rules of middle class Iowa. The expenses & transportation involved with formalized soccer were a burden that the coaches and other parents had to take care of because my family could not. When the next year came around, I was not selected to play on the team even though my talent was above average. I kept hearing the word burden and the feeling of not being included in the very thing that gave me hope when coming to the US caused many complications while growing up.

On top of soccer was my academic story. I came with a fifth grade education level from the refugee camps and was immediately placed in the 7th grade which I was unprepared for. I struggled with my school work and have spent years trying to educate myself. I am proud to say that in 2018 I became a college graduate after obtaining my bachelor's in Health Administration at Mercy College. Understanding the struggles of my youth and knowing I needed a better support system from my community and my own parents brought me to the point I am today. This is why I created Genesis.”

Genesis Youth Foundation provides the services their children need to level the playing field while empowering them and their immigrant families through athletic play, education, dance and song.
They embrace the many languages of this community while building solid grounds where their play will become the work that changes the world.

Their shared experiences drive them to support and inspire children whose obstacles often prevent them from success. They seek to remove those barriers and drive opportunity for children every day, through athletic play, education, dance and song.

How They Do It

ENGAGING: They make learning, growing, and playing the building blocks for their children’s success.
NOURISHING: They reward curiosity, and light paths of discovery that level their playing fields.
CARING: In a safe, nurturing, family environment, they educate and collaborate with volunteers, mentors, and community partners to foster awareness of the lived experiences of vulnerable children.
RESPONDING: They radiate joy, share optimism, and delight in the everyday successes of the children they serve.



Founded by Congolese refugees in 2017, ICOACH empowers Congolese Iowans by creating economic opportunities and delivering culturally appropriate assistance, so they can realize their potential, live with dignity, and thrive in their new home.

There are more than 2.5 million displaced Congolese people. Many have suffered from war, poverty, sexual abuse, and other human rights violations. And more than half of them are children. These individuals have had poor access to education and virtually no exposure to English. As a result, Congolese Iowans face language, cultural, emotional, and physical barriers that make adjusting to their new home state extremely difficult. ICOACH works with youth to heal, educate, advocate and develop

On August 13th, 2004, rebels from the National Liberation Forces brutally attacked the Gatumba refugee camp in western Burundi. ICOACH founders Boaz and Alex, as well as many other refugees from the Banyamulenge ethnic group, lost parents, siblings, and dear friends. Since then, nearly 8,000 Congolese people have made a new life in Iowa. ICOACH Summer Program video


Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates (iJAG)

Through iJAG, high-school and middle-school students discover their individual talents, develop skills, and seize opportunities to achieve their personal potential. Each iJAG program is operated as a "for-credit" elective course during the regular school day. The iJAG specialist serves as adjunct faculty within our partnering school districts at Saydel and Perry High Schools. The specialist continues to work with students through summer in areas related to leadership, employment, and, in some cases, academic support. Critical to the success of the iJAG program is the relationship established between the student and the iJAG specialist. Each specialist works with a total of 35-45 students in a small learning environment and plays a unique role of teacher, advocate, guidance counselor, and mentor. Moreover, 93 percent of iJAG students graduate.


Johnston Youth Mentoring Program (JUMP)

The Johnston Youth Mentoring Program is a one-on-one school-based mentoring program. JUMP staff members pair adult community volunteers and Johnston School staff members with identified students in fifth through twelfth grades. Mentors help mentees find personal and academic success by being a positive role model and listening and supporting their mentees as they work to achieve their goals. The mentoring relationship occurs throughout the school year with a commitment of 1 hour per week.


ManUp Iowa

ManUp Iowa was founded with the specific goal of creating and expanding an organization that would provide preventative resources and services to “at-risk” male youth who have been determined to be statistically one of the most underserved populations in Polk County, Iowa. ManUp provides mentoring programs to hundreds of youth at multiple site locations around the city of Des Moines. The program is a community-based and school-based group mentoring model serving three separate age groups, including elementary school students age 7-10, middle school boys age 11-14, and high school boys age 15-17. The majority of youth referred are identified by the school's administration to be at risk of educational failure, dropping out of school, juvenile delinquency, and/or behavioral issues. Youth are matched with a male mentor and participate in weekly group sessions, where male responsibility is discussed through the facilitation of an evidenced-based male responsibility curriculum, during both large and small group sessions. ManUp Iowa's mission is to empower young men to make positive life choices so that they may go on to live healthy and successful lives at home, at school, and in the community.


Oakridge BE REAL Academy

BE REAL Academy focuses on increasing grade-level reading proficiency in sixth through eighth grades to help ensure students are prepared and able to compete academically. Students receive one-on-one daily tutoring in any classes in which they are failing. The BE REAL staff follows up weekly with school staff to track progress and adjust tutoring as needed.


Oakridge SWAGG at Callanan

This program focuses specifically on the needs of students attending Callanan Middle School, which has a specific and definite need for academic support for a defined group of students. SWAGG is designed as follows:

  • Daily presence in the school building that allows program staff to actively observe students in the academic setting and establish relationships with building leadership and teachers
  • Educationally focused with specific emphasis on academic building blocks: language arts, math, and science
  • Provision of certified teachers to provide academic support, including one-on-one tutoring, small-group tutoring, and homework support
  • Enrichment opportunities to expose youth to activities and experiences necessary to expand their views and perspectives, including college visits, career exploration, and service-learning
  • Setting high expectations for participating youth and increasing individual accountability
  • Valuing the youth voice and providing opportunities for youth to make decisions, take on leadership roles, help construct program offerings, set personal goals, and develop their potential as role models


Please Pass the Love

SOS (Stomp Out Stigma) is a youth-led program at Please Pass the Love that empowers young people to become leaders in middle schools and high schools across the state. We give them the tools to make effective changes and become mental health ambassadors. We believe in the power of youth voice.

The mission behind S.O.S is to bring light to issues around student life at school so students can effectively make changes in their school climate. Students will work on a variety of self-care, leadership, self-expression, and relationship-building activities as well as working on group projects to promote mental health awareness.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in our state and country. We simply have to be doing more. SOS groups work hard to let everyone know that it's okay to not be okay. No one should have to struggle in silence or struggle alone. If you want to see real change at your school, consider starting a group today! Available for any middle school or high school in the state of Iowa.

Sarge's Westside Boxing

The Boxing Club, located at 2214 Forest Avenue serves a diverse community of youth--many living within the Forest Avenue/Drake/King Irving/Union Park/River Bend neighborhood communities. The club works with 30-40 youth at any given time with the purpose of developing confidence and focus through this organized athletic activity which in turn leads to success in school and career.
Youth in the program range from ages 5-12 with a target population representing at-risk and low-income students from these neighborhoods. Some 70 plus percent of youth in the program live in a home with an income level that is below the poverty line. Youth living in this socioeconomic environment are effectively isolated from many metro youth activity programs when compared with higher-income households that have more effective mobility. This organization exists to serve these youth. Channel 5 News Report on Sarge's

Science Bound

In collaboration with Iowa State University and Des Moines Public Schools, the Science Bound program strives to meet state and national needs for a technical workforce by increasing the number of ethnically diverse Iowa students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Students are selected to participate in the Science Bound program based on test scores and teacher recommendations. Each school has a Science Bound teacher who meets regularly with students to conduct science experiments, take field trips, discuss student course selection and work to increase their grades and academic skills. Additionally, SB students must complete college preparation courses, maintain a 3.0 GPA, participate in at least 75 percent of program activities, and meet related requirements. Students who successfully complete the high school program, meet admission requirements to Iowa State University and pursue a technical degree at ISU, receive a full tuition scholarship from the university. 

Willkie House

Willkie House is a youth development/community center that has over 100 years of history in the Black Community in Des Moines. They have a focus on promoting Black Culture, Pride, and History to their youth and the general community.
The mission of Willkie House is to develop character and esteem in young people through the promotion of academics, social skill building, health, and recreation. We have After-School, Summer, Mentoring, and Recreation programs for youth K-8th.
Willkie House, Inc. was established in September of 1917. It initially served as an extension of the War Recreation Board for Black Officers at Fort Des Moines. It is, therefore, one of the oldest African–American community-based organizations in Iowa, and one of the few remaining “settlement houses” existing in America.