• By Degrees Foundation

Outdoor Classroom to be built with $10,000 grant from Variety – The Children’s Charity

Des Moines, IA – The Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation has received a $10,000 grant from Variety – the Children’s Charity to fund an outdoor classroom at Harding Middle School in Des Moines. The outdoor classroom will offer school administrators, teachers, and students new and unique learning opportunities.


The Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation motivates and empowers children from

low-income communities to reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term program of mentoring, tutoring and enrichment, as well as tuition assistance for higher education. In October of 2014, I Have a Dream created the Dreamer Academy at Findley Elementary School in Des Moines. All current and future Findley students and families benefit from a strong culture of college and career while gaining access to community resources. The Dreamer Academy continues to expand as students matriculate into Harding Middle and North High School.


Harding staff, teachers, and students have expressed a need for an outdoor space dedicated to unique learning experiences. Located on the green space adjacent to Harding within the Earl Rodine Park, the small amphitheater-style space will accommodate 25-30 students and be ADA accessible.


“Creating non-traditional learning spaces is important,” Harding Principal Joy Linquist said of the plan. “This outdoor classroom will give our teachers the ability to create lesson plans that incorporate the outdoor environment and educate students differently than a traditional classroom might.”


Harding is a Turnaround Arts school, and incorporates movement, dance, spoken word, visual arts and music into all academic areas. “We hope this outdoor classroom enhances opportunities to develop innovative lessons that engage students in new ways,” Dreamer Academy Program Director Heather Isaacson added. “This speaks to the heart of the Dreamer Academy, I Have a Dream, and Harding Middle School mission.”

Variety – the Children’s Charity is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk, and special needs children throughout Iowa. Grant funding is provided to programs and initiatives that directly impact the wellbeing of children. For more information on Variety grants and programs, please visit varietyiowa.com.

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We recognize the transformational impact incremental changes can make on a student’s life. Partnering with entire schools, we work to increase high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates while engaging community partnerships to uplift students, families, and whole neighborhoods.

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mailing: 2507 UNIVERSITY AVE

DES MOINES, IA 50311

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DES MOINES, IA 50311

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