Greater Des Moines Disaster Recovery Fund Helping Youth Nonprofit Programs During ‘Return to Learn’ Uncertainty


DES MOINES, Iowa — The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines activated its disaster recovery fund back in March to help families during this pandemic. Most recently it divided out a total of $120,000 to eight local nonprofits who specifically help youth in the Des Moines community during the “return to learn uncertainty.”

“When our community fund imagined what a disaster recovery fund could mean for this place, we knew it had to be nimble, it needed to help meet the need of vulnerable families no matter what those were, with a focus on keeping them healthy and stable in terms of economic impact they might be facing,” Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, Chief Community Impact Officer with the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines said. “So at the end of the day when we looked at all the needs and opportunities, this is one that clearly made sense for the disaster recovery fund, because it made sense for the community.”

While Des Moines Public Schools is 100 percent virtual, places like the Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM) found itself evolving from an after school program, focusing mainly on literacy levels, to a full-time daycare for Moulton Elementary students.

This not only giving children a place to go during the day, but it is also helping facilitate online learning. Currently, CFUM has about 30 students in programing and another 35 on a waiting list.

“With the current need to provide all-day day care, we have an increase staff costs, supply costs with kids wearing masks, needing hand sanitizer, those sort of things. So this money comes at a really good time so we can help ensure that we can continue to support working families and keeping kids safe,” Tony Timm, CFUM’s Executive Director said.

It’s the same case for the Willkie house, another youth development nonprofit receiving help from the disaster recovery fund. They too shifted to a full-time program during the school year. They are helping over 50 kids throughout the day as they try to learn online.

“All of our families are essential workers or work directly in the health care field. So between the summer program and the school year program, we really didn’t have a break. It wasn’t an option for our families really,” Jonathan Douglas, Executive Director of the Willkie House said. “We wouldn’t have been able to stay open all day with the switch in staffing, funding, number of kids, feeding kids, making sure they have everything they need throughout the day without this disaster recovery fund.”

To date, the disaster recovery fund has raised more than $1 million thanks to the support of the people, businesses, and funders of greater Des Moines.


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