On a recent afternoon the library at Roosevelt High School was the setting for a meeting of the minds, as DMPS administrators, school board members, and community stakeholders gathered with a new partner in preparation of an exciting opportunity for Des Moines high school students.

At the start of this school year, it was announced that Avenue Scholars was partnering with Des Moines Public Schools. The Omaha-based organization provides comprehensive, individualized support services to help students identify, prepare for, and ultimately enter financially sustaining, high-demand careers.

The meeting at Roosevelt was a chance for DMPS and Avenue Scholars to make sure everything is ready to launch and expand over the next couple of years. The initiative will begin at Roosevelt High School in the Fall of 2022, available to select juniors, before moving on to all five high schools by the start of the 2024-25 school year.  Once fully implemented, all schools will serve approximately 50 students each (25 juniors, 25 seniors).

“We’ve learned that most students have hopes and dreams for their future but life challenges often get in the way and prevent them from staying the course,” said Noelle Nelson, executive director of leadership and learning for secondary schools at DMPS. “This partnership is exciting because it provides a curriculum targeted at career readiness, as well as career counselors, who help remove barriers.  Our local economy needs our kids and our kids need help accessing high quality jobs.  This program bridges the gap.”

What is Avenue Scholars and how does it work?

The program starts in a student’s junior year of high school and continues uninterrupted through postsecondary training and up to six months following career entry. Eligibility is based on financial need (such as eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunches or a federal Pell Grant), interest in pursuing a high-demand career requiring an associate degree or less, and attendance at a partner high school.

Each student is assigned a Career Coach at both the high school and postsecondary/career levels of the program to guide their personal and career-related development during the junior and senior years of high school (High School Career Coach) and during postsecondary training and into career entry (Postsecondary Career Coach). Students also receive support from DMACC College Success Navigators, who assist students with college-related issues (course enrollment, financial aid, academic support, etc.). Additionally, Avenue Scholars’ Business Outreach Team engages area businesses to provide career awareness, exploration, and employment opportunities, while its Student Support Team provides individualized support to help students address basic life and social/emotional needs.

While Avenue Scholars will soon have a presence at East, Hoover, Lincoln, North and Roosevelt, students in the program will also be encouraged to take classes at Central Campus that fit their career objectives.

The program is being made available at DMPS thanks to the support of MidAmerican Energy.

Visit avescholars.org to learn more about the program.

Photo from Avenue Scholars Meeting at Roosevelt

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