Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hawkeyes for a day: U of I college visit

The Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation didn’t just promise our Dreamers that we would pay for college if they graduate from high school. We work tirelessly to foster a culture of college throughout their education. University pennants hang from the walls of Ms. Dusenbery’s classroom, and we invite Dreamer families for visits to campuses to get a sense of the experience and expectations for students. This summer, we traveled to Iowa City to visit the University of Iowa.

The schedule included a campus tour (fun fact from our guide: There are more books in the University of Iowa library than people in the state, and more pigs in Iowa than books in the U of I library!), a peek into a residence hall room, all-you-care-to-eat lunch in the dining hall, and a chance to go behind the scenes at Kinnick Stadium.

The best message of the day came from Hawkeye football player Brett Van Sloten, who gave the kids a locker room talk that underscored the need to be self-motivated, accountable and able to manage their time wisely. All are important skills for students — especially student athletes!

Even our die-hard ISU fans enjoyed seeing the pink visitor locker rooms:

A special thanks to IHAD board member Andy Frantz for putting us in touch with the athletics office.

Seeing this picture of the Dreamers hanging out at the Old Capitol next to this photo of recent U of I alumna and former Dreamer, Jenny, really brings home the impact of the IHAD promise!

Just six more years until they’re ready to start their own college experiences!

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IHAD Affiliate success: Portland, Oregon

We were thrilled to watch this video from our affiliate “I Have a Dream” Foundation in Portland. Their model is definitely an inspiration as we think about how to scale our success and engage in discussions about what our next Dreamer class will look like. Take five minutes and watch what they’re doing. If you know of similar strategic partnerships that can help us in Des Moines, let us know!



CultureAll workshop informs and inspires

His Nigerian name is 26 letters long, meaning “Every day you live, you always remember the good things people do.” Here in Des Moines, he is known as  Eric Idehen, and respected as a business leader who rose through the ranks from Dahls dishwasher to a Vice President at Wells Fargo Financial.
Dressed in traditional garments, Eric joined our Dreamer students for a morning CultureAll workshop during which he shared his homeland’s culture and his personal story of success in the United States. Son of a school headmaster and teacher and native of Benin City, Nigeria, Eric lived in Spain and the Ukraine before moving to Des Moines and working his way up. Along with interesting information about his home country, Eric dispensed inspiring wisdom:
“The one thing that can go with you everywhere in life, that nothing can take from you is your education,” he said. “The only person who can make you not successful is you.”
Poverty and hardship are relative, he explained, sharing the stories of orphans who live at the Cornerstone of Hope Orphanage he helped found. Hard work, respect for elders and people of other cultures and a mindset dedicated to giving back are fundamental for success.
Our Dreamer parents might want to adopt this Nigerian custom for their own homes!
Special thanks to ABC 5 and Banker’s Trust for the “One Classroom at a Time” grant that made this summer school workshop by CultureAll possible.

Noe the Nigerian prince

See more photos from the CultureAll presentation and other enrichment activities on our Flickr Page.

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Run the Harvest Dreams 5K at Living History Farms

We are excited to benefit once again from the Harvest Dreams 5K, which will be held at Living History Farms on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

Organized by the Contributors Breakfast Club, this evening race is  followed by a band and a great lively atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy! We can promise it’s not as cold and muddy as the Living History Farms Off-Road Race in November, and it raises money to support our cause!

Register today at and we’ll see you at the starting line!


How to Make a Dog Visor

How to Make a Dog/Puppy Visor for Kids

This crafting post is by Laila, a Dreamer who participated in our blogging enrichment session during Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation summer school. This assignment was to create a How-To post that we could put on Pinterest! The Dreamers have been making and selling items to benefit the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary as part of their Dreamers, Do! service group.

1.     You will need these items to make your visor:

·      A foam visor (In the color of your choosing.)

·      2 pieces of foam (Also your choosing for the color.)

·      A pair of scissors

·      A hot glue gun

·      A pen or permanent marker

·      Two googley eyes

·      A heart or circle template

·      Any colorful scraps of foam that may be lying about

·      A colored pom-pom (used as nose)

2.    First you trace your heart/circle template with your pen/permanent marker. This will be the muzzle.

3.    Next you cut out the shape using your scissors. Be careful to get your fingers too close to the blade. If you have a heart tracer cut the pointed part off after cutting out the whole shape.

4.    Now you will take your pen/permanent marker and draw the shape you want for your ears on your other piece of foam. Draw fairly close to the edge to make the next part easier.

5.    Then you will fold your piece in half so that the to ends of the foam are lined up.

6.    Now cut through both layers of foam while staying on your outline.

7.    Now you’re able to draw on some decorative patterns so your ears will look fun and unique.

8.    Now that you’re done cutting you can take your hot glue gun and glue your muzzle, ears, nose, and eyes onto your visor.

9.    After letting your dog dry you can cut out some accessories like a bow, a tongue, or even rosy cheeks. Then you will glue those on with hot glue gun as well.

10.  Finally, once everything dries, you can wear your new dog visor for everyone to see.

Here’s another version, with floppy ears and half a heart as a muzzle template:

Jazzy’s dog hat project


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Iowa ACEs Summit: Lessons Learned

Neglect. Abuse. Addiction. Mental Illness. Incarceration. Sadly, these kinds of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) aren’t uncommon. And in families where these ACES add up, childhood traumas can tend to repeat themselves as children turn into adults.

This week, Brianne from the IHAD staff joined several hundred stakeholders gathered for the Adverse Childhood Experiences Summit, which presented research that links childhood trauma to problems later in life and drummed up excitement for the completion of Iowa’s Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study.

Image via Washington State Family Policy Council – Laura Porter presentation

Dr. Robert Anda did a great job of explaining the physiology of stress, and how it modifies cellular function in developing children’s brains. (In addition to biology, he also wove in some pretty interesting art history!)

Anda’s research team’s finding showed that children who encountered three or more ACEs had significant problems in schools — among other difficulties. As we work with our Dreamer families, the ACEs cross-generational cycle is important to understand.

Having  information about ACEs in Iowa helps us move toward providing trauma-informed care in our communities. ACEs data can provide a framework for addressing a number of public health, social and medical service issues.

Laura Porter of the Washington State Family Policy Council, walked us through the stages of community empowerment that groups in her state are using to respond to their areas with high ACE scores. (Lincoln High School in Walla Walla was a fantastic example.) Because these adverse experiences are prevalent, Porter says, we can’t necessarily afford enough direct services to serve all of the people who would need them. Instead, she said, we need to invest in communities and expand the leadership base to include more concerned citizens.

“Surprise people with leadership opportunities and you’ll be rewarded,” Porter told us. “Instead of slipping back, you’ll slip forward into the next phase.”

The Iowa ACEs Summit did a good job of showing how, by collecting data about adverse childhood experiences, we can make our systems of prevention and intervention more effective. Then, we’ll be able to change the endings of these childhood stories, ensuring today’s neglected, abused or addicted children can become the ‘unlikely’ community leaders of tomorrow.

This slide illustrates some of their process:

Image via Washington State Family Policy Council – Laura Porter presentation

Read more about the Iowa ACEs Summit in this Des Moines Register story. You can find the presentations and much more ACEs information on

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Rookies with rooks: Dreamer chess club begins

In order for our Dreamers to be successful, they need to learn to think strategically about how the choices they’re making today will impact their futures.

Academic coordinator Kristi Dusenbery, who is a master of finding fun ways to slip important life lessons into the classroom, came up with a great way to work on these skills during summer school: Dreamer Chess Club.

All of our summer school participants are learning the rules of the game and playing together and with volunteers from the community. The game appeals to the Dreamers’ competitive spirits and the strategy helps them grow mentally. The benefits of learning and practicing chess abound!

Many thanks to our volunteers who stopped in to play with the Dreamer students. If you’re interested in helping us for an hour during summer school, it’s easy to sign up to play!

Interested in volunteering? There are still more days in June you can join us! Just sign up here.

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Summer School Smarts

Our first week of Dreamer Summer School is underway, and our students haven’t missed a beat!

Barely out the door after sixth grade, they’re showing up bright and early to work in math centers, and are honing communication skills through a research-based poster project.

Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Sarah, is jumping right in with the kids!

We’re also working with them to start blogging, on publishing digital Storybird books and learning how to use Microsoft Publisher as well as making a video for future classes of incoming 6th graders on how to survive the transition to Middle School.

All before lunch!

A huge thanks to Wells Fargo for a grant that helps us produce summer school, and to our friends at ABC 5 and Bankers Trust for the “One Classroom at a Time” grant that we’re using to make this session possible.

Together, we are doing our part to prevent the “summer slide”  — a huge contributor to the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers. (This “How to Beat Summer Learning Loss” post by Edutopia has some great information about how to come together to combat this phenomenon.)

Want to get involved?

We’re still looking for some chess club volunteers!

Join us for our end of summer school cookout and poster presentation open house! It will be held June 29, 2012 at Callanan Middle School.

Donate to help us complete funding for our summer school program.

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