DES MOINES, Iowa – Starts Right Here, a non-profit organization founded by local rap artist William Holmes, aka Will Keeps, received a $50,000 grant from Amerigroup to provide enhanced education support to help at-risk youth obtain high school diplomas.
Amerigroup’s funding will educate, equip, and empower young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances with the opportunity to receive tutoring and mentoring, take advantage of school assemblies and on-site classroom curriculum and management.
Starts Right Here works with at-risk students in grades K-12 in Des Moines, 70 percent of whom are minorities, to provide an effective educational alternative that improves outcomes for those enrolled. The organization uses fine arts, music, programming, and various other methods to break down barriers that the organization asserts are leaving students in central Iowa disenfranchised, forgotten, and rejected.
The funding was announced on Tuesday at Starts Right Here in Des Moines with Starts Right Here Founder, President, and CEO Will Keeps (Holmes), Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia, State Medicaid Director Liz Matney, and Amerigroup Plan President Jeffrey Jones.
“I am thrilled with the partnership Starts Right Here has developed with Amerigroup Iowa,” Keeps (Holmes) said. “This is a company that truly cares about the welfare of at-risk youth in Iowa, and I am so grateful for their financial commitment to the mission of Starts Right Here. We will be able to reach greater heights during this upcoming school year thanks to this funding.”
“Will Keeps is changing lives through Starts Right Here, providing young Iowans with an opportunity to rise above challenging circumstances through hope, purpose, and determination,” Reynolds stated. “This grant from Amerigroup will magnify the incredible work his organization does on a daily basis. I am so pleased to see these two organizations come together as they work to serve Iowans.”
The Reynolds administration has prioritized creative solutions to help at-risk youth, including educational choice and encouraging community-based interventions, such as Starts Right Here. In May, Reynolds signed the charter school expansion bill at Starts Right Here.
“Starts Right Here takes an innovative and inspiring approach, creating a supportive environment for our local youth,” Garcia said. “I’m delighted to see Amerigroup Iowa has partnered with Starts Right Here. I deeply appreciate Amerigroup Iowa for this funding commitment that will assist Starts Right Here in empowering at-risk youth to reach their mental, emotional, physical, and economic potential.”
IA Health Link is Iowa’s Medicaid managed care program overseen by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise at the Iowa Department of Human Services. The program serves more than 700,000 Iowans eligible for Medicaid services.
Amerigroup Iowa, the largest and longest-running private health plan in the IA Health Link program, partners with local organizations to serve at-risk youth across the state to empower them to reach their highest potential.
“Amerigroup Iowa is proud to partner with Starts Right Here to provide resources for at-risk youth that will lead to a productive and healthy lifestyle,” said Jones. “This funding will aid in the development of our local youth by enabling emotional and social support as they set out to achieve their goals and reach their highest, most productive self.”