December 21, 2011

Announcing Chrysalis Conversations Series

Consider purchasing your Chrysalis Conversations Series tickets today!

Ensuring World Class Readers

Check out the latest from the Des Moines Register about the Reading Summit Chrysalis was involved with last week:

December 19, 2011

Last week we were invited to attend "Ensuring World Class Readers," a policy and research forum held in Des Moines that provided evidence that whether a child reads at proficiency by the end of third grade can be a "make or break" indicator of future educational and life success.  At the beginning of 4th grade, says the research, children stop learning to read and begin reading to learn.

In fact, the National Research Council notes that "academic success, as defined by high school graduation, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone's reading skill at the end of third grade.  A person who is not at least a modestly skilled reader by that time is unlikely to graduate from high school."

The forum included keynote addresses from such speakers as Ralph Smith, Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Heather Weiss of the Harvard Family Research Project; Nell Duke or Michigan State University; and several Iowa education and policy leaders.

Mr. Smith provided some interesting statistics including the fact that 80% of low income children in this country cannot read proficiently by grade 3.  In addition, he noted that roughly 75% of Americans ages 17-24 cannot join the US military, most often because they are poorly educated.  And for the first time in history, the pool of qualified high school graduates is neither large enough not skilled enough to supply the country's workforce, leadership, national security, and higher education needs.

Three key areas must be addressed first, Smith noted, in order to improve a child's potential in school:

1.    IMPROVE READINESS - too many children come to school "unprepared" to learn -- they are hungry, tired, or stressed by family disfuction and cannot catch up.

2.    ATTENDANCE - many children, particularly those from low-income families, are considered "chronically absent," missing 10% or more of the school year.  For many, it begins in kindergarten - 10% of all kindergarten and first-graders nationwide are chronically absent, and for some districts, as many as 25%.

3.    SUMMER LEARNING - research shows that low-income children fall behind during the summer as much as by 2 months of reading achievement, producing an achievement gap that grows over the years.  One study indicated that by the end of 5th grade, low-income students read at a level three grades behind that of middle income students.

By now you're aware of the Governor's blueprint for educational excellence in Iowa - One Unshakable Vision: World Class Schools for Iowa, released in October.  Among the recommendations in the blueprint is ensuring basic literacy by the end of third grade (to read the entire blueprint:
In addition to numerous changes including teacher training, strengthening academic focus, and tightening up assessments, Iowa's plan calls for greater involvement of parents and community in the success of students including "increasing parent and community engagement in every school in Iowa."   A huge piece of this role is shared by after-school programs such as Chrysalis After-School.

Our programs not only support innovation, creativity, and problem-solving, but they also connect after-school learning with the goals of Iowa Core Standards' 21st Century skills:
(1) employability skills
(2) financial literacy
(3) health literacy
(4) technology literacy
(5) civic literacy

We've expanded our program leader training, engaged a number of community partners, provided field trips and experiential learning, and worked with programs to include service learning and community engagement for the hundreds of girls involved in our programs.  You can be proud that Chrysalis After-School is a model for effective after-school programming that supports academic success and improves girls' potential - to graduate, to continue learning, and to become productive and independent citizens in the future.

We're working to ensure girls do not become a statistic.  Thank you for your leadership in our work.

December 14, 2011

Press Release: 12/14/11

Contact: Brooke Findley
Chrysalis Foundation, Director of Policy and Programs
For Immediate Release
December 13, 2011


Des Moines: The Chrysalis Foundation has awarded $60,000 to 10 local organizations serving women and girls through its 2011 Community Partners Grant Program.  Funding supports the operations of organizations aligned with the mission of Chrysalis, which is to increase resources and opportunities for women and girls in Greater Des Moines.

"We view the Community Grant Program as a partnership because we’re working together in a number of ways,” noted Chrysalis Executive Director, Terry Hernandez.  “Chrysalis fully invests in partner organizations with funds, training, education, and volunteer recruitment to build their effectiveness.  In turn, we learn from them what the changing issues and challenges are.”

Grantee organizations are provided one-on-one technical assistance and monthly learning opportunities through the Chrysalis Women’s Alliance.  Christine Halbrook, Chrysalis Grant Programs Committee Chair adds “We’re in a unique position among foundations, and we value the relationship that is created from this investment. We can assure our donors that Chrysalis is supporting the success of the most effective and sustainable organizations that serve women and girls in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties.”

Awards for work during 2012 were presented to:
Bernie Lorenz Recovery Center
Children and Family Urban Ministries
Des Moines Chapter: Dress for Success
Hawthorne Hill/New Directions Shelter
Iowa Homeless Youth Center
L.U.N.A. (Latinas Unidas po un Nuevo Amanecer)
Youth Emergency Services and Shelter
Young Women’s Resource Center
We Learn Independence for Tomorrow (WeLIFT)

Chrysalis grants are funded by contributions from individual donors.  Because of founder Louise Noun’s provision of an endowment, every dollar given to Chrysalis returns to the community through its grant making and educational programs. For more information, please visit

Established in 1989, Chrysalis is a Des Moines-based community foundation serving Polk, Warren, and Dallas Counties.  For more information, call 255-1853 or e-mail to:

Chrysalis Community Grant Recipients

Chrysalis is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2011 Community Partner Grants. All funding will be used for operations during the 2012 calendar year.

Bernie Lorenz Recovery
Halfway house providing support for women with substance abuse or mental health concerns

Children and Family Urban Ministries
Agency supporting working families and their children by providing quality out-of-school time programs, family-focused events, and daily meals

Dress for Success
Providing professional attire and career support to disadvantaged women seeking employment

Providing donated furniture and household goods to clients of domestic violence services

Hawthorn Hill, New Directions Shelter
Emergency shelter and transition to independent living for homeless mothers and children

Iowa Homeless Youth Center
Transitional shelter for pregnant and parenting young women and their children

L.U.N.A. (Latinas Unidas por un Neuveo Amanecer)
Agency serving Latina victims of domestic violence or sexual assault through counseling and advocacy

Young Women’s Resource Center
Organization providing an array of gender-specific programs for girls and young women from age 9 to 21

Youth Emergency Services and Shelter of Iowa (YESS)
Emergency shelter for newborn through age 17, providing counseling, stabilization, assessment, and a crisis nursery

We Learn Independence for Tomorrow (WeLIFT)
Providing support, resources, and employment assistance to unemployed and low-income residents of Warren County

December 6, 2011

Women's Leadership

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Board member Lisa Nakashima, regarding an interview she had seen on a recent broadcast of 60 Minutes.  I had also listened to the interview, but felt Lisa’s observations were particularly astute.  So with her approval, I’m sharing her message:

I caught a portion of the 60 Minutes interview with Christine Lagarde who is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Ms. Lagarde is new to this role but seems to be having a profound impact in her short tenure (assumed leadership in July 2011).  In the interview, she came across as level-headed with a clear idea on changes needed to ensure the world’s economy continues to recover.

A couple things struck me as I watched and listened to her responses.  For Lagarde, it is not about titles, achievement, or ego but rather, about doing the work.  Secondly, I pondered if that is what separates female leadership from male.  That it is about the work and accomplishments of an organization or company rather than the old measures of success – fancy cars, extra-large homes, country club memberships, and similar characteristics.

Anything that Chrysalis can do to educate and inform on this style of a woman’s leadership model should be a goal.  We not only need to step into leadership roles but also ensure that our way of operating is part of that transition.

Lisa’s comments inform much of our work toward building leadership skills in girls and women.  The gifts women bring to leadership in the corporate world relate to our differing learning styles and have been documented to increase shareholder value, generate increased revenue growth, and improve client service (reported by US Banker Magazine).  
Christine Lagarde represents the type of women leaders we’re working to present through our new Chrysalis Conversations Series this spring, and the type of women leaders we inspire all girls and women to become.  Thank you for own leadership in this work.

For more info on Lagarde, go to:

(Thank you, Lisa!)

November 29, 2011

New Mental Health Research

Yesterday we held our bi-monthly meeting of Women’s Alliance members (nonprofit organizations that work with girls and women – this includes grantees and non-grantees) and heard a presentation from Laura Healless, LISW, MSW, who is the social worker involved in our DASH Pilot Project. 

Laura’s work is based on research including the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente (1995-97) involving over 17,000 participants.  Each participant had a standard physical examination and completed a confidential survey about their childhood (through age 18), particularly related to experiences and family dysfunction.  Attached is a copy of this simple survey.

Participants were then tracked according to health status and behaviors, and the groundbreaking results proved a direct correlation between traumatic (“adverse”) childhood experiences and a multitude of health and social problems throughout a lifetime.  And the severity and extent of health problems increases according to an increase in these adverse experiences.  The documented health problems noted included:

×          Adolescent pregnancy
×          Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
×          Anxiety
×          Chronic pain
×          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
×          Depression
×          Diabetes
×          Early death
×          Early initiation of sexual activity
×          Early initiation of smoking
×          Fetal death
×          Hallucinations
×          Health-related quality of life
×          Hypertension
×          Illicit drug use
×          Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
×          Liver disease
×          Lung cancer
×          Memory disturbances
×          Multiple sexual partners
×          Risk for intimate partner violence
×          Sexual abuse
×          Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
×          Smoking
×          Suicide attempts
×          Unintended pregnancies
×          Violence

Resulting from the ACE Study, the medical community is now being trained in both ACE and what is termed “Trauma-Informed Care,” meaning that clinicians are looking further into the social history of patients to uncover the factors that may have influenced the diseases and behaviors they are diagnosing.  By identifying and discussing these experiences, patients can then learn to model a healthier lifestyle – that they do not need to continue in a pattern set in childhood.  The medical and public health community is adopting this key understanding, including major funders such as the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program.

If you’re interested, here are definitions of Adverse Childhood Experiences from the clinicians involved in the study:  

Adverse Childhood Experiences Definitions
The following categories all occurred in the participant's first 18 years of life.
Emotional Abuse
Often or very often a parent or other adult in the household swore at you, insulted you, or put you down and sometimes, often or very often acted in a way that made you think that you might be physically hurt.
Physical AbuseSometimes, often, or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at you or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured.
Sexual Abuse
An adult or person at least 5 years older ever touched or fondled you in a sexual way, or had you touch their body in a sexual way, or attempted oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you or actually had oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you.

Emotional Neglect
Respondents were asked whether their family made them feel special, loved, and if their family was a source of strength, support, and protection.  Emotional neglect was defined using scale scores that represent moderate to extreme exposure.
Physical Neglect
Respondents were asked whether there was enough to eat, if their parents drinking interfered with their care, if they ever wore dirty clothes, and if there was someone to take them to the doctor.  Physical neglect was defined using scale scores that represent moderate to extreme exposure.
Mother Treated Violently
Your mother or stepmother was sometimes, often, or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her and/or sometimes often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard, or ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or ever threatened or hurt by a knife or gun.
Household Substance Abuse

Lived with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or lived with anyone who used street drugs.
Household Mental Illness
A household member was depressed or mentally ill or a household member attempted suicide.
Parental Separation or DivorceParents were ever separated or divorced.
Incarcerated Household Member
A household member went to prison.

For Chrysalis, our role is to share this information and to teach it in our educational programs for grantees, other nonprofits, and Chrysalis After-School program staff – all in our continued efforts to strengthen and support girls and women.

November 7, 2011

Women's Economic Gains

What’s truly interesting is how many gains women have made over the past few decades.  I remembered reading a TIME Magazine article in high school (1972!) that was devoted to how women were now progressing through the new movement “women’s lib.”  There was a sense at the time that women were making no gains – that the women’s movement had stalled. 

But I remembered reading Gloria Steinem’s view: “in terms of real power – economic and political – we are just beginning.”  So I wanted to look at how much progress we’ve actually made since that article came out:

×          In 1972, 7% of students playing high school sports were girls; now the number is now over six times as high.
×          The female high school dropout rate has fallen by more than half.
×          College enrollment was about 60% male, now it’s over 60% female.
×          Less than 10% of law and medical degrees were granted to women, today it’s over half.
×          There was only one women’s foundation – MS – and today there are over 170 worldwide.


×          Half of Ivy League college presidents our women.
×          Until just recently, 2 of 3 network news anchors were women.
×          Four of the five most recent Secretaries of State have been women.
×          The last election cycle involved 2 women – Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
×          The President of the US was raised by a single mother and is married to an attorney who has out-earned and outranked him in the corporate world.

There also seems to be greater acceptance of women’s economic power:

×          89% of both women and men are comfortable with the idea of a woman earning more than the man of the household.
×          74% of men and 71% of women disagree with the notion that women in the workplace need to behave more like men.
×          71% of men agree that they are more comfortable than their fathers with women working outside the home.
×          Over 70% of women say they are less financially dependent on their spouse than their mothers were.

It’s amazing how much has changed in just one generation – but there is certainly plenty that needs to change.  Our work is to continue sharing the research and evidence that the power of women is evolving – socially, professionally, economically, politically – and that Chrysalis intends to continue being an engine pushing for this change.

Thank you for being a Chrysalis “engineer!”

See you Tuesday at INSPIRED: Financial Health!

November 1, 2011

Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly

A Chrysalis Board member reminded us of this trailblazing work, updated in 2010 regarding the advertising industry's treatment of women and the message sent to women and girls.

Chrysalis After-School in the News

The Whyld Girls program, funded in part by chrysalis was highlighted in the news last week.

Check it out and consider joining the cause as a Life Coach.

October 31, 2011

"Neuromarketing" and Financial Literacy

Okay, we’re getting close to that time of year when even the best of us are forced out of our comfort zone…Shopping – why do we always end up looking to purchase one gift or a couple of groceries, then end up spending $50 or $60 (or more!) before leaving the store?

One author has spent his career learning why this happens.  Marketing guru turned consumer advocate Martin Lindstrom (Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy) has studied the new field of neuromarketing – and is claiming that areas of our brains light up when we buy!

He’s found a number of what he calls “hidden motivators” that retailers use:

The amount of groceries we buy is directly related to the dimensions of our cart.  In fact, larger carts are found to entice us to spend 37% more.  And, consumers spend 30% more when they have children with them.  And 70% of people spend more time shopping when they are with someone else.

Christmas music is a perennial hit for marketers. “It’s an old trick—it makes us feel nostalgic, like we’re children again,” says Lindstrom, who calls the phenomenon “rosy remembering.”  In other words, it takes us back to life in simpler times. As a result, we tend to spend 17% more than when generic music is playing.

Now we know why the cashier counts out the small bills when giving change – fact is, we’re much more likely to spend smaller bills than to break down larger ones.  In fact, a 2009 study showed that breaking a $100 bill to make a purchase is 48% harder than spending exactly the same amount using smaller bills.

4.      “VANI-SIZING”
Wonder why the size 10 pants fit you when they never did before?  Vani-sizing—when stores make clothes bigger so we think we can fit into a smaller size—is “in nearly every store out there,” says Lindstrom, and works on both men and women.  (In three different stores, a pair of men’s pants with a 36-inch waist was found to actually measure anywhere from 37 (at H&M) to 39 (at the Gap) to 41 (at Old Navy.)

Beware!  Your dressing room mirror may not always reflect reality.   Stores play with light, adding a slight tint of rosy color to fitting room mirrors to make us look fresher and more tanned.  There’s typically quite a difference in the way we look in a dressing room compared to stores on the sales floor.

Stores study the way we walk around and shop and design around these patterns.  Retailers are even installing what the shopping industry calls “speed bumps” on the floor.  When we feel these bumps, we usually slow down and look around, averaging a 15-seond delay, which studies report leads us to spending as much as 17% more.

7.       SAMPLING
Even the most innocent toothpick-speared fruit or bite of pizza tells us we’re hungrier.  Studies even show that up to 40% of people who take in-store samples will begin buying food – whether or not that was what they are shopping for.

Large displays and canned pyramids cause you to interrupt your thinking – for a special deal or to read the package.  Studies prove that when we’re interrupted, we lose focus and are more likely to spend.  And what we’re seeing in a display may not be a better deal…we’re willing to spend up to 15% more for the very same product when it’s on a display or marked as a “special”.

When we’re offered the opportunity to receive a percentage off purchase by opening a credit card at the register, we’re falling for a major retailer trick.  First, if you do open the account, the salesperson typically receives a bonus.  And second, research shows that you spend an average of 30% more with a credit card.

So, now you’re armed with the methods to defend yourself against overspending, right?  If not (or even if you are), don’t forget to register for 2011 INSPIRED: Financial Health, our annual fundraising event on Tuesday, November 8.

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Bach (Smart Women Finish Rich and The Automatic Millionaire) will keynote a night of inspiration to become financially healthy – and we’ll hear from several local corporate professionals on specific topics including Christine Halbrook, Chrysalis Board member.  Event workshops include:

×          Leaving More Than Memories – The Gift of Estate Planning presented by Christine Halbrook, Attorney, of Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler, and Hagen, PC
×          6 Steps to a Secure Retirement presented by Matt Fryar, CFP, of Wells Fargo Advisors
×          Keeping Your Financial Assets Safe presented by Jodi Paardekooper, CAMS, CFSSP, of Bankers Trust
×          Insuring a Future presented by Brad Whitman, Partner and General Agent – Central Financial Group, of Aviva USA

This event delivers on the Chrysalis promise to educate our community about the value of financial literacy and economic empowerment.

October 26, 2011

2011 INSPIRED Financial health with Author David Bach

Click here to hear David Bach speak about the chrysalis inspired event!

Chrysalis After-School Program at Hillis Elementary

Chrysalis staff visits every funded after-school program several times per year (at least once per year unannounced). Yesterday Brooke Findley stopped in at Hillis Elementary, where 14 girls were learning about choices related to drugs and alcohol. Brooke's favorite quote heard from one girl: "Why would anyone hurt themselves by not being safe in their choices?" Good question. Chrysalis After-School is the ideal venue to discuss these things. A special thanks to partners at Employee and Family Resources for providing the information and leading the session.

October 24, 2011

Media's Portrayal of Women

A new film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival that sent a chill through its audience.

Miss Representation is a new documentary exploring how the media’s portrayal of women has had a tremendous –and negative- impact on the progress of women in society.  The film reveals how mainstream media directly correlates to the under-representation of women in positions of influence and power in the United States.

As explained on the film’s website

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

Here are just a few of the alarming statistics shared in the film:

·          American teenagers spend more than 10 hours a day consuming media, most of it filled with content that objectifies women and distorts their bodies.

·          53% of 12 year old girls feel unhappy with their bodies, 78% of 17 year old girls feel unhappy with their bodies and 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder.

·          Rates of depression among girls and women have doubled between 2000 and 2010.

·          Girls are learning to see themselves as objects.  The American Psychological Association calls self-objectification a national epidemic: Women and girls who self-objectify are more likely to be depressed, have lower confidence, lower ambition and lower GPAs.

·          US Advertisers support this content – they spent $236 billion in 2009.  Because of deregulation – “This is the first time in human history that marketers have dictated our cultural norms and values,” according to Caroline Heldman of Occidental College.

·          Women respond to advertisers’ messages of never being good enough: American women spend more money on the pursuit of beauty than on their own education.

The results?

·          67 countries in the world have had female presidents or prime ministers.  The U.S. is not one of them.

·          Women make up only 17% of the United States Congress.

·          Women and girls are the subject of less than 20% of news stories.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Although the film is a wake-up call, the producers are vigorous about developing tools to teach girls and young women about media literacy, and to work toward change in media and advertising industries.

I’ve registered to host a screening of Miss Representation, which will provide us an opportunity to view and share the powerful messages of this film.  I have also ordered an educational curriculum to provide Chrysalis After-School programs the opportunity to teach and reinforce the importance of changing the industry, and changing the way we view, learn, and resist its negative messages.

If you’d like to see a short trailer for Miss Representation

Thank you for making this critical work possible.