ISU 4U hosts mini-conference


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Katherine Richardson Bruna, director of the ISU 4U Promise began the ISU 4U Promise mini-conference on Jan. 22 at LeBaron Hall.

Mitchel Anderson

The ISU 4U Promise partnership hosted a small conference Friday to highlight the work of its collaborators and to plan for the future of the partnership.

The ISU 4U Promise began as a partnership between Iowa State and King and Moulton elementary schools in Des Moines to allow students from the schools to earn tuition awards to attend Iowa State after they graduate high school.

Katherine Richardson Bruna, director of the ISU 4U Promise, said the conference provides a time and place for involved faculty members to show what they are accomplishing with the programs that stem from the ISU 4U Promise.

“When we were working on getting the ISU 4U Promise started in response to President [Steven] Leath’s charge to us, we had a team of faculty that would try to meet regularly to think what this meant for us,” Bruna said. “As they got more involved, asking for regular check-in meetings was going to be a challenge.”

Bruna added that the conference serves as a culminating activity for faculty and staff involved where they can learn from each other in a one-day session as opposed to meeting at separate times.

“What it’s doing, I think, is it’s starting a tradition for a celebration around the work of the ISU 4U Promise and a way to check in on its achievements,” Bruna said.

One of the projects that stemmed from the ISU 4U Promise, Juntos Para una Mejor Educación (Together For a Better Education), assists minority youth to graduate from high school and pursue higher education. Juntos is just one example of the successful programs that ran above and beyond the original goal of ISU 4U.

Several of the projects that have also stemmed from the campaign involve closing the achievement gap in elementary schools in Des Moines, and eventually around the state. Faculty from the ISU Extension and Outreach office are heavily involved in leading the programs, but there is one full-time staff member designated to the ISU 4U Promise.

Kayla Hamilton, a former classroom teacher with special interest in the achievement gap and educational inequality, joined ISU 4U Promise as the only full-time position.

“My main role is collaboration,” Hamilton said. “There are a lot of different projects, partners, faculty, students and community organizations involved in the projects, so my No. 1 role is helping everyone collaborate and keeping us all on the same page. I have teacher liaison teams that I meet with at [King and Moulton elementary schools] every other week so they can give us guidance from teacher perspectives from each school.”

You can find out more about the ISU 4U Promise at