ASAP Adapts to Meet Demand

For the 2016–17 school year, ASAP will implement only its Push-in model of programming, offering arts studios in partner schools rather than at the flagship St. John’s location in downtown Des Moines.

St. John’s Lutheran Church established the After School Arts Program in 2007 as an outreach ministry to children in nearby neighborhood schools who had limited access to arts enrichment activities. In partnership with Des Moines Public Schools, ASAP bused 40 children to St. John’s one afternoon per week for studio instruction. The children flourished under the guidance of caring instructors and assistants who encouraged creativity, and the program was an immediate success.

Fast forward nine years: With support from many individual donors, as well as community partners such as St. John’s, DMPS, United Way of Central Iowa, Bravo Greater Des Moines, the City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department, Principal, Wells Fargo, the Iowa Arts Council, and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, ASAP has grown well beyond original imagination and today serves more than 1,700 student enrollments annually, from sixteen different schools — with even more on the horizon. But with successes also come challenges.

During strategic planning in the first half of 2016 (supported by grants from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines), the board of directors of Arts for the City, Inc., focused on aligning ASAP’s primary purpose and objectives to its budgetary requirements. The original mission remains unchanged: to affirm young people as persons of value, nurture their skill and talent in the arts, help them realize their artistic gifts, and broaden their awareness of the varieties of artistic expression. As outlined in the strategic plan, this mission will be carried out by enhancing and growing the program while achieving financial stability.

Since 2013, ASAP has taken programming into Des Moines elementary and middle schools in addition to busing students downtown to St. John’s for instruction. Meeting students where they already are, through ASAP’s Push-in program, has many advantages for students, families, and school administrators. It is also a cost-effective way to meet established goals. For the 2016–17 school year — on a trial basis — ASAP will implement only Push-in programming, and resources (such as the expense of student transportation) will be reallocated.

“Of course we have mixed emotions about taking this provisional step,” says ASAP Executive Director Michelle Bolton King, “but we are excited to be able to adapt to reach even more kids who need and want our program. We appreciate everything St. John’s has done to support ASAP. Our combined efforts are making an enormous impact in the lives of many children. We hope that everyone who connects with ASAP’s mission will continue to support it, regardless of where classes are held.”

Following the approved strategic plan, the board will implement and closely monitor all activities to ensure proper stewardship of funds and resources is being met. The board has set high expectations and commitments to making ASAP one of the best youth programs in the state.

Leave a Reply