May 19, 2017

Camp Fire Heart of Iowa/Camp Hantesa Receive YLI Community Partner Award

A total of 42 students from 22 area high schools graduated in the 2017 Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) class. YLI introduces, develops and fosters leadership among high school sophomores and juniors in Greater Des Moines (DSM) through experiential mentoring and leadership opportunities that enhance self-esteem and encourage involvement in all levels of community life. YLI is an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

The following people and organizations were awarded as part of the graduation of the Class of 2017:

YLI Community Partner Award: Camp Hantesa, Camp Fire
Mentor of the Year Award: Mallory Murphy, Norwalk High School
Impact Award: Greg Jackson, Wells Fargo
YLI Outstanding Youth Award: Caroline Fink, Dowling Catholic High School

The full 2017 YLI graduating class is as follows:
Antonio Angel, Van Meter High School
Jacob Barr, North Polk High School
Sean Boles, Van Meter High School
Marcus Chew, Valley High School
Peyton Chilton, Waukee High School
Breton Clark, Valley High School
Sophia David, Woodward-Granger High School
Josiah DeValois, North Polk High School
Arleth DeAvila, Lincoln High School
Natalie Elizalde, Ankeny Centennial High School
Caroline Fink, Dowling Catholic High School
Nolan Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes High School
Kallie Hirl, Norwalk High School
Trinity Hopkey, Norwalk High School
Chase Johnston, East High School
Tyler Juffernbruch, Indianola High School
Omer Kantarevic, Johnston High School
Jason Koromo, Hoover High School
Joshua Lawless, Carlisle High School
Drake Leek, Norwalk High School
George Long, Dowling Catholic High School
Achol Makuet, Roosevelt High School
John Martin Jr., Hoover High School
Katie Michalski, Johnston High School
Jacob A. Mulcahy, Ankeny High School
Megan Nelson, Valley High School
Robert Nishimwe, North High School
Delefine Niyigena, North High School
Nate Ramirez, Carlisle High School
Katie Reeder, Johnston High School
Malerie Rike, Homeschool – West Des Moines Homeschool Ancillary Program
Jackson Rutto, Urbandale High School
Brooke Seller, Dallas Center-Grimes High School
Shantelia Shook, Lincoln High School
Timaris Shumpert, East High School
Chaimae Sibouih, Roosevelt High School
Varun Vepa, Urbandale High School
Claire Ward, Southeast Polk High School
Roan Wilhelm, Ankeny Centennial High School
Connor Willeford, Southeast Polk High School
Nicholas A. Worthington, Lincoln High School
Sankalp Yamsani, Waukee High School

Since its inception in 2001, 461 students have graduated from the program. For more information, visit

About the Youth Leadership Initiative
YLI began as a project of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Community Leadership class of 2001 – 2002. It an initiative of The Greater Des Moines Partnership. Now in its 15th year, YLI’s mission is to help local youth see a community that is welcoming, nurturing and vital which provides ample opportunity for participation in meaningful community change, networking, and individual growth. Since its inception, 461students have successfully graduated from the program.

About the Greater Des Moines PartnershipThe Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce and more than 6,000 Regional Business Members, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes Des Moines as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at

September 29, 2016

Receiving a $300,000 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation (MACF) was, according to Camp Fire Heart of Iowa Executive Director Robert Reid, “a game changer—which is good!”

Naturally, receiving $300,000 is a revenue boost. However, when the foundation comes to the council and personally asks the council to apply—and then walks them through the application process—all that goodness becomes something great.

Among other social-serving goals, the foundation wants to expand opportunities for kids to attend camp—to reduce the barriers that keep them away.

According to their grant guidelines, MACF provides funding to support programs that address unmet needs; that give individuals and communities the tools to become self-sufficient; that will be sustainable after support ends, and that build on and strengthen strong relationships within communities. The foundation also focuses on environmental concerns. With an emphasis on issues Camp Fire Heart of Iowa advocates for every day, it is clear why the foundation paid them a visit and offered them funding.

Bob explained that MACF, which is expanding from its Minnesota roots into Iowa and other Midwestern states, seeks out organizations that align with the parameters of their mission. “They asked the hard, though right, questions,” explained Robert. The foundation wanted to know why youth come to camp. What stops them from coming? What messages do kids respond to?

In fact, a percentage of the $300,000 will be allocated to contract with a market research firm that will pursue answers to these basic drivers of camp attendance. Other funds will be directed to hiring a naturalist to bolster the Camp Hantesa nature programs. Two new outreach positions will also be staffed.

“Though we were surprised when we heard representatives from the MACF were coming to visit our council,” shared Bob, “when they arrived we had a good grasp of who they were and what they were trying to do. We were also very frank about our challenges.”

The conversation obviously went well.