Avenue Scholars career development program coming to Central Iowa
BUSINESS RECORD STAFF Aug 30, 2021 | 8:07 pm
2 min read time570 wordsAll Latest News, HR & Education, Retail & Business
MidAmerican Energy Co., Des Moines Public Schools and Des Moines Area Community College are partnering to bring a new student internship and career program to Central Iowa in the 2022-23 school year.
The organizations are working with Avenue Scholars, a program developed in the Omaha metro area, to bring that model of coaching and support services to Central Campus high school students in Des Moines as they prepare to move on to DMACC career programs.
Avenue Scholars, founded in 2008, works with metropolitan Omaha school districts to provide individualized support services to help students to identify, and ultimately enter, financially sustaining career paths. The program had 791 students enrolled in the 2020-21 school year, according to its 2020 annual report.
The Des Moines school district’s Central Campus, located on the western edge of downtown Des Moines, is a nationally recognized career and technical program serving students from all five Des Moines high schools along with several other Central Iowa school districts.
“MidAmerican is proud to connect a proven program like Avenue Scholars to students in Central Iowa who – with some additional support and resources – can find opportunities in high-demand and fulfilling careers,” said Kathryn Kunert, vice president for economic integration and connections at MidAmerican. “Not only will this program have a lasting impact on many students’ lives, it will positively expand our future workforce while creating a talent pipeline for organizations like ours to draw from.”
The Des Moines-based energy company, through the MidAmerican Energy Foundation, is donating $1 million to this initiative, spokesman Geoff Greenwood said. MidAmerican Energy is a subsidiary of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
The Des Moines program will focus on high-demand careers identified by Future Ready Iowa in health care, information technology, manufacturing, construction, engineering, business and education. The program will provide opportunities for diverse and economically challenged student populations within DMPS.
“We very much look forward to our partnership with Avenue Scholars and the many success stories that will result,” said Teree Caldwell-Johnson, a Des Moines school board member. “Avenue Scholars goes hand in hand with our work to prepare more and more students for the high-demand and well-paid careers needed in our community. The program will play a vital role in elevating those students most deserving of additional support and fuel their success through and beyond high school.”
During their senior year, Des Moines Avenue Scholars participants will participate in Senior Year Experience programming, which includes either coursework through DMACC or an internship/part-time work in their chosen career pathway. After high school, students can pursue an associate degree or certification at DMACC.
According to the Avenue Scholars website, 81% of participating students in the Omaha program continued on to postsecondary education in the 2018-19 school year. More than 350 Omaha metro businesses have hired graduates of the program.
During the next several months, DMPS and Central Campus staff will collaborate with Avenue Scholars and MidAmerican on plans to roll out the program. Recruitment will begin in early 2022 for qualifying students to begin the program at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“We are thrilled to offer our program to Des Moines students of hope and need and are committed to helping them identify and access the paths to their career goals,” said Ken Bird, president and CEO of Avenue Scholars. “We greatly appreciate the generous support of MidAmerican, DMPS and DMACC. This endeavor wouldn’t be possible without their considerate contributions.”