Category Archives: Community Partnerships

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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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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