An East Side University in Des Moines Works to Connect with Its Neighbors

Sep 18, 2017

Grand View University on the east side of Des Moines is launching an effort to better connect with the school’s surrounding neighborhoods. The project is the result of dozens of meetings with community leaders over the past year.

Wes Foster, the pastor of Union Park Baptist Church, at the launch of the Views Forward Project. Grand View President Kent Henning looks on.
Credit Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

The initiative is being called the Views Forward Project. Grand View will work with four of the Capital City’s oldest neighborhoods – Highland Park, Union Park, Capitol Park and Martin Luther King, Jr., Park. The pastor at Union Park Baptist Church, Wes Foster, says the ultimate goal is east side pride.

“We want to make people who live in this neighborhood proud to be part of this neighborhood," he says. "We want people who come from this neighborhood say, yeah, I grew up in that neighborhood and people will say, wow, that’s cool.”

The president of Grand View, Kent Henning, plans to go door-to-door this fall to meet with the school’s neighbors. He says the project is intended to bring attention to an area that’s sometimes overlooked.

“When there are limited funds available to deal with, say, rundown properties or housing development or for enhanced public safety efforts, we want to move these neighborhoods forward on the list of those that are awarded those funds,” he says.

Henning says the project will begin small by providing free tickets to Grand View sporting and cultural events to people living in the neighborhoods. He says students will focus their volunteer efforts in the surrounding area, as well.