Youth Venture is a global movement for youth who want to create positive, social change in Iowa. It launched in Des Moines in 2008 and has since provided more than 100 youth with the opportunity to join a Youth Venture Team in Dallas, Polk, and Warren counties.
To become a Venturer, you must be between the ages of 12 and 24, care about the community and have an idea on how to better it.
The initiative starts with you. Need an idea? Schedule a Dream it. Do it! Workshop by e-mailing us. Have an idea? Fill out the Youth Venture Challenge Flyer, get it submitted, and let’s change the community!
CYC is kicking off a Youth Venture Environmental Challenge! Youth interested in the Challenge will be able to join other youth starting in February to learn about environmental issues, from experts in the community. If you have an idea that will positively impact the environment and want to connect with other youth with like ideas, this challenge is for you. Start by filling out the Youth Venture Challenge Flyer and getting it submitted as soon as possible! The Youth Venture Environmental Challenge is sponsored MWA, United Health, State Farm Insurance, and United Way of Central Iowa. To become a sponsor, please contact CYC.
Overview of currently active 2010-2011 Youth Venture teams
East High TOA (The Organization of Acceptance). Students with TOA are creating a safe place for youth from their school to be and counteracting every type of social injustice. Launched January 2011.
East High Culture Clash. Students are generating awareness and celebrating diversity through a cultural activities day. Launched January 2011.
East High Flipped. A group of youth are taking donated prom dresses and using sewing and design skills to rework and sell them to girls at a low rate. Launched January 2011.
Mitchell STEPS. Older students with developmental disabilities are serving as friends and mentors to younger students at Mitchell Elementary. Launched February 2011.
Johnston High Global PerspectiveS (GPS). Youth are collecting stories of life travel journeys to share during social events and through media formats throughout their school and the community. Launched February 2011.
Battle the Cavities:
A group of pre-dental and pre-medicine students at Drake University are on a mission to improve oral health of youth in the Des Moines metro area. Their passion for oral care helps fuel their desire to help underprivileged children who lack proper access and techniques for dental hygiene. Working to construct oral hygiene survival kits (which will include toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste), Battle the Cavities will give presentations to schools and youth programs. Through their efforts, 2,500 youth will have the healthy smiles. Launched April 2010.
Camera in hand, these two brothers are setting out to capture footage and share voices within the Des Moines community. Their passion for film combined with an interest in what young people and artists are doing for our community drives their venture, as they set out to become a vehicle for the community to learn about positive action and events occurring all around Des Moines every day, particularly by organizations impacting at-risk youth. By using their skill and the resources Youth Venture provides, Black Pelican will be able to engage new audiences in central Iowa with things they never knew were happening. Launched August 2010.
With an idea for empowering at-risk youth through work experience, Community Coffee is setting out to create a professional and meaningful work environments. In one of Des Moines’ most vulnerable neighborhoods, an unused coffee bar sits inside Culture Inc., a local non-profit. This team is taking the opportunity to start a coffee shop. Not only will it be the only devoted coffee shop in its area, but it will be providing professional experience for at-risk youth in the area. They are currently raising funds, as to get the northeast side of Des Moines caffeinated as soon as possible. Launched April 2010.
Drake Family Fun Night: Noticing there were few structured opportunities for families to gather and have some fun in the Drake Neighborhood, the Drake Family Fun Night team came together. With the help of United Way of Central Iowa and their three main pillars of community, the team started organizing fun nights on the last Friday of each month, which focus on health, income, and education. Volunteers for the team help serve dinner to families. After dinner, family fun starts with arts and craft projects, reading groups, and games in the gym. Each Family Fun Night has a different theme, depending on the season. All are invited to come out and enjoy! Launched 2008.
Husky Talk: To increase awareness of teenage pregnancy, STI’s, and other risks involving sex at a young age, Husky Talk formed in the summer of 2009 at Hoover High School. With an increasing teenage pregnancy rate in their school, these students decided it was time to stand up and do something about it. To move on their efforts, they held a clothing drive for the Young Women’s Resource Center, an educational activity with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, a field day event for the school, and had candy sales as a fundraiser throughout the year. Their efforts are continuing into the next school year with hopes that dialogue around these issues takes new weight at Hoover. Launched in June 2009.
Junior Master Gardeners (4-H): These young gardeners have a plot of land, a collective desire to produce food for their community, and the patience to let small things grow. Planting for the first time in the summer of 2010, members had a stand at the Altoona Farmer’s Market. Proceeds raised there will be invested back into their garden. And leftover food will then be donated to DMARC and the local food pantry for distribution. It’s not every day our community gets to see collective action taken from the ground to those in need. It’s even more rare and exciting to learn this action is being taken by a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds looking for something to do with their summer. Launched May 2009.
KWAKers (Quackers): “Kids With a Kause,” so these youth living in the Waveland Neighborhood call themselves. Their “kause” has become very well known: “Let’s do something. Let’s make it positive. Let’s make it fun. Let’s make it active.” By organizing events that unite the neighborhood, the KWAKers are focusing attention towards causes. And with as many as 50 youth at times, the KWAKers car wash and pool parties during the summer of 2010 are sure to be a good time. They are continuing to grow and work collectively and positively in Des Moines. Through a partnership with the State of Iowa Youth Action Committee (SIYAC), KWAKers, created a KWAKers toolkit to help other youth start their own KWAKers group. Launched April 2010. Officially a CYC program as of February 2011.
Lincoln BookSplitters: One of the first Youth Venture teams in Central Iowa, Lincoln BookSplitters have remained involved in their core mission: increasing the number of readers at Lincoln High School in Des Moines. They have hosted baking and reading parties, they have marathon read through the night for donations to buy new books, and they have helped their school librarians organize new and used books at their school. After two years, leadership has successfully changed hands. They may head towards new genres of books, but they’ll still be focused on splitting binds collectively. Launched in 2008.
Lone Tree Gardens: For a group of youth who had never really grown their own food, Lone Tree Garden’s first goal was very appropriate: get something other than a weed to come out of the ground. These youth (ages 20-24) did much more than that in the Drake Neighborhood; they produced enough fruits and vegetables to feed the more than 30 people involved and their neighbors. They were also able to build community relations while they were at it. One neighbor let them to hook up the hose during watering times. Another neighbor stored their wheel-barrow and gardening tools. And another helped them construct a compost box. Although only one tree stands on the edge of the property, it is full of the life and energy this team plants. Launched in 2010.
Multi-Cultural Advisory Council: The Multicultural Advisory Council (MAC) at Valley High School brought together 14 students from very diverse backgrounds to start a dialogue about cultural barriers. By providing information on what students and teachers can do, MAC aimed to improve intercultural relations throughout the school. In the spring of 2010, they teamed with various companies such as Fudruckers and Panera to host a community night to raise money for more cultural events at Valley. The group also purchased rubber Valley bracelets to sell and increase school pride. Launched in 2009.
PALS: Focused on developing a teen center for Dallas-Center Grimes middle school students, PALS has met monthly over the past two years. To sustain themselves, they asked students to invest not only in nights at the teen center but in their community. Each month, PALS organize an event that is fun and benefits central Iowa. By asking for $2 at the door, these middle school students were able to raise more than $100 for each of the following causes: school supplies for local buildings, Meals From the Heartland, local nursing homes and daycares, non-perishable food donations, Secret Santa, Lutheran Social Services, the Heart Connection, Special Olympics (Grimes), packs of flowers or seeds, the Animal Rescue League, and extra school supplies for next year – and all while having fun in a safe environment, addressing the common phrase “there’s nothing to do here.” PALS are excited to see what they can accomplish next year, especially with the group of 50+ students who are now actively involved in the planning and staging of the events. Launched in 2008.
PROUD: There’s a time to celebrate and there’s a time to take action, and that’s exactly why team PROUD at Roosevelt High School started after participating in the CULTUREALL Fast Track Diplomats program. Meeting every Monday after school during the school year, PROUD members organized the school-wide Cultural Fashion Show, where students from various cultures came together to show others traditional garb. They also organized some social action in their school. Members recognized many issues related to academic equality and diversity: disproportionate numbers of students enrolled in AP courses and treatment in the school setting, to name a couple. After surveying the student body, results were presented to administration and a discussion on how to work together in the future was held. For their first year, PROUD had many accomplishments and grew tremendously. Only more success is seen in PROUD’s future. Launched in 2009.
Sir Walrus the 5th: Noting the gap between incoming and current students who attend Walnut Creek High School in West Des Moines, team Sir Walrus the 5th decided to take charge in outreach efforts. And what’s a better way to be greeted than by a pizza party? Team members participating in the CULTUREALL Fast Track Diplomats program took the initiative to organize the events, reach out to students, and help everyone feel more comfortable in their setting. After the end of the 2010 school softball and pizza party they co-hosted with staff, Sir Walrus the 5th is continuing to develop their team and look ahead into the new school year. Launched in 2009.
Smiles on Siblings: Three girls were moved by the experiences of siblings who are separated by the foster care system. To help siblings reconnect, Smiles on Siblings created a day-long opportunity for siblings to come together to get to know one another. Fourteen pairs of siblings participated in the day-long event, all of them thankful for the opportunity to hang out with each other. Launched in 2009.
King Dreamers: The Van Meter National Honor Society realized in 2010 that not all youth have the same access to technology that they have been able to enjoy. With that knowledge, they set out to raise funds to purchase technology for the youth who attend King Elementary school located in the inner city of Des Moines. Launched in December 2010, King Dreamers is currently raising funds to purchase two flipcams and four computers. The youth are excited to be able to teach their friends at King Elementary how to use the new technology during the 2011 spring semester.