New Name But Same Great Program at Findley Elementary in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A new program at a Des Moines elementary school will seek to replicate the success that the "I Have a Dream Network" has had in preparing kids for college for decades.

On Wednesday, the local "I Have a Dream Foundation" announced it is breaking with the national program and launching a new one called "By Degrees Foundation" at Findley Elementary School.  The announcement brings to an end the 28 year relationship between the school and the charity.

The program's CEO, Emily Westergaard, says she has nothing but good to say about the former partnership.  However, she believes that by striking out on their own the group will now have more flexibility in shaping its program and in fundraising.  Other than the name change, though, Westergaard says parents and kids won't see a change.

"All of that support stays the same and we're still committed to helping them pursue those longterm goals," Westergaard says, "The only thing that really changes is our name and our ability to be a little more flexible."

The new program's name, "By Degrees", refers to the seemingly small changes it makes in kids life at a young age.  As they grow that little change becomes bigger and bigger.  The program takes a holistic approach to preparing kids for college and life beyond.  Kids are introduced to the idea of a college degree from a young age, taking yearly trips to a campus starting in elementary school.  It also provides support for those kids' families so they are better prepared to learn.

"In essence what the foundation does is take care of the wraparound that our students and families need so that we here in the school can teach and help our family learn," says Barbara Adams, Principal at Findley Elementary School.

"By Degrees" serves kids at Findley Elementary School then follows them through Harding Middle School and North High School.  Kids are given individual savings accounts and money is added to it as they reach academic goals throughout their school career.