Local Mentorship Program Prepares to Break Ground on New and Improved Space

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Children and Family Urban Movement organization has stayed at its same location for five decades, but that will soon change.

At the corner of 8th Street and College Avenue, a century-old church stands tall, but its basement is too cramped for growth.

"It's time for the kids to move out of the basement. And we're growing up and it's time to move on," says CFUM's executive director Jim Swanstorm. "We've needed to do something for many, many years."

More than 200 kids start and end their day in the basement of the Trinity Las Americas Church, a building where CFUM rents space. When the nonprofit was first formed, it began serving breakfast for students at nearby Moulton Elementary School. It also serves supper for students and other people living in the area.

For decades, the program has made itself a part of the Des Moines Riverbend Neighborhood, creating a safe space for low income families.

Swanstrom says, "They are bringing us their kids every day, they are keeping their kids with us for all these years."

The program provides before and after school mentorship for students of all ages. They're forced to spread out across CFUM's three locations along College Avenue. It's not ideal, and organizers have come to terms with that.

The organization purchased a vacant lot at 9th Street and College Avenue to build its new location, which will house all of its activities under the same roof. Crews will break ground on the project next week and begin construction in July.  This was an idea several years in the making, and Swanstorm admits it took a lot of courage to take the step.

"Whether you're building a house or you're building a 20,000 square foot building or a 100,000 square foot building, you've gotta have confidence, you've gotta believe in your ability to raise money, count on your friends to make this happen," he says.

The $7 million project is expected to make a huge return investment on the community. A space of their own means a space to provide more opportunities.

"This is going to be a wonderful opportunity to bring people together under one roof. It will build a sense of community with all of the kids."

The project is expected to be completed by next August.