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!)