A new program being offered at DMPS high schools starting next school year introduced its inaugural group of students today. Avenue Scholars will launch at East and Roosevelt high schools in August, and expand to Hoover, Lincoln and North over the next couple of years. The Omaha-based organization provides comprehensive, individualized support services to help students identify, prepare for, and ultimately enter financially sustaining, high-demand careers.

“We are thrilled to officially launch the Avenue Scholars Des Moines program at both East and Roosevelt High Schools!  Today we honor our first class, which consists of 51 talented scholars who are heavily invested in their futures,” said Noelle Nelson, executive director of Avenue Scholars Des Moines. “Avenue Scholars is making a long-term commitment to students of hope and need through supportive relationships, education, tuition assistance, and career preparation.  Our schools are filled with talent and it’s our goal to prepare them to be competitive, prepared, skilled employees who will positively impact their communities.  This program is a great example of what can happen when the business community and the education community lock arms.”

During a luncheon at Curate in downtown Des Moines, the first DMPS class to take part in Avenue Scholars were honored at a celebration attended by representatives and supporters of the program along with school and district leaders. The program is being made available at DMPS thanks to the support of MidAmerican Energy. In addition, the EHS Alumni Foundation is helping to bring Avenue Scholars to East High a year earlier than originally planned.

“I think what is most important about Avenue Scholars is that it opens doors for students, to opportunities, people and careers that may not have been open before,” noted Jill Versteeg, principal of East High School. “Our students and community are hungry for this opportunity and I’m thrilled we get to start this at East High School.”

The Avenue Scholars program begins 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.

“Roosevelt is thrilled to be part of the inaugural class of Avenue Scholars in Des Moines Public Schools. Students and families have the possibility of gaining access to a resource that will help students with life after high school when they pursue a meaningful career,” added Steven Schappaugh, principal of Roosevelt High School. “This partnership will be truly transformative. We are eager to help change the lives of students, which will create a ripple effect that positively impacts future generations as well.”

Visit avescholars.org to learn more about the program.

The inaugural Avenue Scholars and their areas of interest are:


Aniso Aden Health Sciences
Mia Aviles-DeLeon Health Sciences
Yeimi Barajas Munoz Health Sciences
Dayana Caro Rodriguez Health Sciences
Eric Chavez Health Sciences or Automotive
Jessica Cruz-Pérez Health Sciences or Business
Yarely De La Rosa Health Sciences
Freddie Diaz Health Sciences
Cruz Flores Auto or Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Pedro Gomez-Gonzalez Health Sciences or Automotive
Saraih Heredia Health Sciences or Business
Maya Hernandez-Howard Health Sciences
A’Rontae Johnson Auto or Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Talan Kalwishky Health Sciences
Nyayul Kong Health Sciences or Manufacturing
Alexander Leiva guardado Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Kowan Leuang Health Sciences, Automotive, or Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Hailie Liendo Health Sciences
Paola Lopez Business
Martha Lopez-Quiroz Health Sciences and Business
Juan Marquez-Nieto Business
Jovany Martinez Health Sciences
Keyvaughn McMurray Automotive
Benjamin Montoya Automotive or Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Giselle Renteria Health Sciences
Shirley Rivera-Pogyo Health Sciences
Nicholas Scott Automotive or Skilled Trades
Chance Sutton Skilled Trades & Manufacturing
Tyron Wright Business


Dol Aden Health Sciences or IT
Curtis Badio IT
Bianca Chavez Automotive or Health Sciences
Keana Cooper Health Sciences
Jasper Countryman Skilled Trades/Engineering
Zami Dainkeh Business
Siqueena Ellis Health Sciences
Kela Eltoum Hamdan Health Sciences
Fatima Haroun Health Sciences or Business
Nevaeh Hawkins Business
Danny Lindaman Skilled Trades/HVAC
Marlene Luis Reyes Health Sciences
Jadea Mandosia Business
Nadia McClaflin Health Sciences or Skilled Trades
Aubrey McFarlin Business
Evelyn Moreno-Cisneros Health Sciences
Danny Navarro Automotive
Josh Quewea Health Sciences
Alec Reeves Skilled Trades
Reem Samir Health Sciences or Business
MJ Vajda-Johnson Health Sciences or Business
Verenice Valdez Health Sciences

Photos from the Avenue Scholars Celebration
Avenue Scholars Student Celebration

Published on