September/October 2019
View this email in your browser
Welcome Back!

Here in the ISU 4U Promise office, we are looking forward to another year of exciting activity! 

This quarter's ISU News 4U newsletter includes: information about the 5th grade promotion ceremonies at the end of last school year; an enthusiastically involved ISU 4U Promise family; reflections from Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Martino Harmon, about his involvement with the first cohort on campus; Urban Ecosystem Project's summer engagement which included the Mosquitoes & Me summer camp as well as professional development to educators in Texas; an update from Dr. Christa Jackson about the STEM InCyte camp; a spotlight on a King 5th grade teacher; & information on how ISU students can volunteer with the ISU 4U Promise program. 

Wishing you all the best on this new year!

Cy poses for a picture with Ebenezer Yafeti, a Moulton student who had just received his ISU 4U Promise tuition award letter at the promotion ceremonies held earlier that morning. The annual end of the year celebration and block party was hosted by Community Alliance member organization CFUM (Children and Family Urban Movement). 
5th Grade Promotion
On the last day of school each year, King and Moulton recognize the 5th grade students in their annual promotion ceremonies. Many of the students have attended their respective elementary school since kindergarten, and this occasion marks the end of their elementary school years and the beginning of a new chapter! This day also celebrates the moment when students become "officially" eligible for the ISU 4U Promise. In addition to receiving achievement certificates, 5th grade students receive ISU 4U Promise backpacks, guidelines for remaining eligible for the ISU 4U Promise, and their personalized ISU 4U Promise tuition award letters. 

Families and friends of King 5th graders wait for the beginning of the annual promotion ceremony.
ISU 4U Promise Family Spotlight: The Orellanas

Attend Back to School Night or parent/teacher conferences at Moulton, CFUM community block party, ISU 4U Promise College Night, or the ISU 4U Promise Mini Conference, and odds are likely that you will see Luis and Telma Orellana, usually accompanied by their three children, Lamar, Nelly, and Ernesto. Lamar attended Moulton from kindergarten through 5th grade and is currently a 6th grader at Harding Middle School. Nelly and Ernesto are current Moulton students in 5th and 1st grades respectively. All three students are on the ISU 4U Promise pathway!

Lamar has visited the ISU campus for InCYte STEM camp and is a returning Mosquitoes & Me participant. What he remembers most is touring campus and seeing the football field named after an African-American player. He was also amazed at how big the whole campus was - that he didn't think he could walk it all in one day! Lamar remarked that it was like a big town where students can eat, sleep, shop, and study.

When asked about the ISU 4U Promise program, Luis responded that he was proud of his kids, of their school, and their education. Knowing that the ISU 4U Promise is helping with their kids' education in the future gives him a great feeling of hope for a brighter future for their kids. He and Telma say that they are happy to know that the ISU 4U Promise is supporting the youth in their community in making Des Moines an even better place to live.

"When I Grow Up..."

"I want to study cooking to become a professional chef or film making to be a director for movies."

"I want to study history, science, and reading and become a journalist or a zookeeper."

"I love writing, drawing, and art and want to be a police officer or a chef."

King Hosts ISU Workshop on Anti-Racist Curriculum

This past June, King Elementary School hosted an ISU School of Education-sponsored workshop entitled "Change the Narrative: Anti-Racist Curriculum, Policies, and Spaces in Iowa's Schools." Facilitated by Associate Professor Katy Swalwell and organized by ISU graduate student Vashalice Howard, the workshop was the culmination of a month-long online class about the history of anti-Black racism in Iowa. The class, which runs every summer, is free to the general public and available for licensure renewal and university credit. The event drew over 50 local educators and community members to hear a panel of school board members discuss anti-racist leadership: Sofia Mehaffey (Linn Mar), Monic Behnken (Ames), and Jennifer Ulie-Wells (West Des Moines). The workshop also included the founding director of the CARTER Center for Teaching Black History, Dr. LaGarrett King, who discussed his framework for the K-12 curriculum, DMPS student Ayanna Minnihan, who shared her perspectives as a student of color, and ISU doctoral candidate L. Wesley Harris, who spoke about the September 29th Movement, a student-led activist group on ISU's campus that has pushed for the name change of Catt Hall. King Elementary principal Kisha Barnes provided a warm welcome at the start of the day, as did slam poet and DMPS high school student, Asascia Manderson, who performed her piece "My Brown." ISU 4U Promise supported the event by providing snacks and technical assistance. 
For more photos, as well as Des Moines Public School's blog post of the event, go to: Blog@DMPS

Dr. Katy Swalwell, Associate Professor in the School of Education at Iowa State, opens the ISU workshop held at King Elementary

Photo credit: Phil Roeder/Des Moines Public Schools
ISU Spotlight: Dr. Martino Harmon
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Division of Student Affairs, Iowa State University
How do you support the ISU 4U Promise in your role?
I provide guidance and oversight, which enables ISU's Division of Student Affairs departments to support the following cohorts of ISU 4U Promise students:
  • Students in grades 9-12 and their families are supported by Admissions Early Outreach to ensure they understand important enrollment processes, deadlines, and opportunities to engage in recruitment programs
  • Students enrolled at Iowa State University (first cohort started fall of 2018) are supported by the ISU Learning Communities program, which provides support, connections to university support services such as Financial Aid, academic tutoring and coaching, and opportunities for involvement in leadership.
Why do you support the ISU 4U Promise?
I can personally identify with these students. Although I did not have the opportunity to participate in an award program, I was a first-generation student from a low socioeconomic background. I had many of the same questions and concerns about college and my ability to succeed. I also know what it is like to be an underrepresented student on a predominately-White campus, and many ISU 4U Promise students are. It is important that they receive support that I did not necessarily have. I want them to have the best chance for success.

Could you share a brief story of a positive memory you have had in working with the ISU 4U Promise students on campus?
I had the honor of meeting monthly with the 2018 cohort of students enrolled at Iowa State during the 2018-2019 academic year. I enjoyed our monthly dinners and conversations. We even went to the bowling alley in the Memorial Union for one of our meetings. The highlight was when I invited the students to my home for dinner. They really felt special that I would invite them into my home. The experience really enhanced my relationships with the students. They enjoyed watching a video of me participating in a fraternity and sorority "step show" with one of the fraternities many years ago when I worked at another institution. When I met with the students this summer after the tragic death of one of the students in the cohort, one of the students said, "We are glad you came to Des Moines to meet with us because if not we were going to show up at your house so we could hang out there." Clearly, they felt at home at my house. I believe they know I really care about them. 
Mosquitoes & Me Summer Camp 2019
The Urban Ecosystem Project (UEP) hosted the Mosquitoes & Me Summer Camp from June 17-28th at Harding Middle School in Des Moines.  In the fourth year of this exciting summer science day camp, the UEP increased the number of camp spaces available and student interest quickly exceeded our capacity!  It is very encouraging to see the community enthusiasm and interest in science.

Camp teams were formed from the 25 new campers (King and Moulton students now entering 5th and 6th grades), 15 returning campers (now entering 7th to 9th grades in various schools), and camp educators from Iowa State University, Des Moines Public Schools, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and our international collaborating organization Walking Palms from Ecuador. Teams learned about mosquito biology, ecology, control and protection against diseases by asking some big questions and working together with authentic science tools and practices to understand the answers.  For example, our young mosquito scientists discovered answers to these questions, and more! 
  • What do mosquitoes eat?
  • Why do mosquitoes bite?
  • How do they grow?
  • How do you dissect a mosquito and what is inside? 
  • Where can I find mosquitoes in my neighborhood? 
  • What happens to mosquitoes during natural disasters?
  • How do we control mosquitoes and prevent diseases?
Are you curious about mosquitoes too?  If you see someone with a Mosquitoes & Me shirt or button, then go ahead and ask them a question about mosquitoes!
Mosquitoes & Me in Texas

In July, Urban Ecosystem Project (UEP) staff members traveled to Kerrville, Texas to present at the 18th Annual K-12 Summer Institute. This conference provides professional development in science education and connections between health and the environment to K-12 Educators in Texas.  Stephanie Schneider, Katherine Richardson Bruna and Sara Erickson presented a 2-day workshop on Mosquitoes & Me.  Just like in our Mosquitoes & Me Summer camp in Des Moines, the participating Texas Educators quickly set out to explore and learn more about mosquitoes around them.  The teams collected larvae, pupae and adult mosquitoes on the conference hotel grounds and made suggestions on improving mosquito control strategies in the area.  These Texas Educators enjoyed learning more about mosquitoes but were very impressed with and inspired by the UEP’s fun and interesting approach to science education.  This is a great example of how UEP is expanding science education and working to share the Mosquitoes & Me programming with many more educators and youth nationwide. By working with King and Moulton students and teachers we have built this engaging curriculum that can benefit teachers and students nationwide.


The 2019 STEM InCYte Camp was at Iowa State University June 10-14. The STEM InCYte Camp exposes middle level students to a variety of STEM fields and STEM professionals through project-based instruction to increase their interest in STEM and STEM-related careers. This summer students were engaged in authentic, hands-on sessions with civil engineers, mechanical engineers, animal scientists, and mathematicians. STEM professionals from Collins Aerospace, POET, Workiva, Vermeer, HDR, and Iowa State University provided ISU 4U Promise students from King and Moulton an opportunity to not only learn what they do in their career but to experience it as well. The students said:
"I liked that we had to learn math to code."
"I learned that shock waves hurt the brain."
"I learned how bacteria can spread really quickly and easily."
"I learned how to make ethanol."

Many students expressed that they wanted to learn more about engineering, how to binary code, the physics of hydrodynamics, robots, microbiology, and how to unclog arteries. We look forward to seeing you next summer, June 8-12, for the 2020 STEM InCYte Camp!

(Article and photos submitted by Dr. Christa Jackson, Associate Professor, School of Education, ISU)
Volunteer in an ISU 4U Promise Classroom
The ISU 4U Promise is searching for volunteers from all ISU colleges who are interested in leaving a lasting impact on elementary students. All ISU undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply. Students who have experience with or are from historically excluded or underrepresented populations are highly encouraged to participate! 

Interested volunteers must:
  • Commit to volunteering for one hour (not including travel time) once a week in a classroom at King or Moulton for the semester (or the year!)
  • Attend a volunteer orientation
  • Be eligible to drive a university vehicle, willing to drive your own vehicle (with mileage reimbursement), or ride with someone
  • Submit all documentation needed to work with youth and drive university vehicles (if applicable)
  • Be committed to sharing what you know about ISU and inspiring ISU 4U Promise students to go to college
  • Fill out the registration form at:

Question from a 5th grade ISU 4U Promise student at Moulton
who had an ISU student volunteer in his class:

"Will I see Mr. Nathan at Iowa State when I go there for college?"
In Memoriam
Kevin Truong
Kevin was a 2018 graduate of North High School and part of the first ISU 4U Promise cohort. He was pursuing a major in Software Engineering and would have been a sophomore this fall.
He was remembered at a vigil at Central Academy (Des Moines Public Schools) with mourners, from former classmates and teachers to family and friends and community members. He is remembered on the Cyclones Forever page.

Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores
Daniela had just finished 5th grade at Moulton Elementary, was newly-enrolled in the ISU 4U Promise, and had visited the Iowa State University campus during the 5th grade field trip in April. Moulton paid tribute to Daniela and her family through a tree-planting ceremony
For more information about the ISU 4U Promise, check us out at!

Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list