« Back

PSERP Helps Youth Achieve Education Goals

Katie is a driven individual. She is currently a nursing student at Des Moines Area Community College—and when she isn’t studying or working the night shift at her job, all her attention goes to taking care of her sister, who has kidney issues.

Between balancing school, work, and home life, Katie doesn’t have much time for herself. She knew she needed someone else to lean on, someone to check in on her, so she can stay on track with her degree. That’s why she applied for YSS’s Post-Secondary Education Retention Program (PSERP).

PSERP helps at-risk youth remove obstacles to achieve their educational goals. From offering financial assistance, including cash bonuses for good grades, to arranging mentors and tutors—the program supports young people pursuing their dreams through education.

Mark Core is YSS’s PSERP Education Advocate. With an office at Iowa Homeless Youth Centers (IHYC), a YSS organization located in downtown Des Moines, Mark’s main job is to support his students. He becomes their cheerleader and charts out plans to help them succeed.

“Mark and I have conversations about my academics and how my grades are going,” Katie says, explaining that he continuously offers resources such as quiet places where she can study, the locations of food pantries in the area, and how to find the Academic Achievement Center on campus.

But Katie says the best thing Mark does is listen.

“I stress myself out for various reasons. Sometimes I’m stuck in a hole and I need somebody,” Katie explains. “Mark hears me out.”

Since its establishment, PSERP has helped many young adults. However, Mark says that with limited funds and staff, he can only do so much.

“PSERP is doing a lot for our community, but we could do so much more,” Mark says. “In terms of the number of students we serve and the degree of assistance we provide, the program can greatly impact the Des Moines metro.”

Mark explains that education contributes to lower unemployment, higher household incomes, greater acquisition of wealth, higher rates of home ownership, reduction of racial disparities, lower rates of incarceration, and greater rates of civic participation.

Education also improves the quality of life for future generations. Children of educated parents have lower rates of adverse childhood experiences and higher rates of education attainment themselves.

“Every student we help get to the finish line of their schooling not only represents another self-sufficient person, but also provides many benefits to the community,” Mark says.

PSERP is changing the lives of many young people. Katie is proof of this impact, and she’s determined to succeed.

“I am not a person who is going to lose my momentum, because I know what I want in life. I’m not going to let myself fail,” Katie says. “That’s what I truly want out of this program. Mark and I have a plan, and he knows how I want it to go.”

“I know my future will be okay,” she adds.

Learn more about PSERP here. If you would like to support the program, make a gift online and type in “PSERP” in the designation field.


Other News

See all News