CultureALL is a Des Moines-based non-profit organization. Founded in 2005, its mission is to lead communities in valuing our culturally rich diversity by creating dynamic, interactive experiences that engage Iowans in cultural discovery in schools, businesses, and communities throughout Central Iowa.
Over the past 11 years, the organization has engaged more than 175 immigrants, refugees, and local residents representing more than 60 distinct cultures to serve as CultureALL Ambassadors. They have involved Iowans in real-life learning about the history, geography, and cultures of our world while empowering them to look at issues from multiple perspectives. With these Ambassadors, CultureALL has provided more than 7,500 authentic, discovery-filled cultural experiences serving more than 230,000 students and community members.
Culture influences nearly every thought and action. When cultural perceptions collide, the conflict can drain communities of human resources and distract us from resolving the issues we face in common. CultureALL strengthens our community, inspiring the possibility that every person offers a unique and positive contribution to the broader society.
CultureALL’s unique programs provide face-to-face encounters with people from other cultures in a safe environment where questions about the similarities and differences between cultures are encouraged, and where participants discover more than another culture’s art or clothing. These programs include:
• School & Youth Programs – From single workshops in a classroom to large scale multi-cultural events that engage an entire school, CultureALL’s youth programs provide what text books and research projects cannot: the authentic sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of other cultures. Throughout the year, both in and out of school, CultureALL provides interactive learning experiences for young people from pre-school through college. Other offerings include professional development opportunities for educators, and special projects like the Zoom in On Culture photo-ethnography program, which helps students to explore their own perceptions of culture. These programs guide students to examine their own feelings, attitudes, and fears about other cultures through direct interaction with real people. Research has shown that when students' cultures are understood and valued in the classroom, they do better in school. As they begin to feel more a part of the school community, they work harder to achieve and they are more successful in school. To close the achievement gap for every student, our schools need to be inclusive of every culture. CultureALL programs helps schools create an environment where all students feel welcome, accepted, and inspired to achieve.
• Business Programs – CultureALL offers unique programs for businesses to help employees become more culturally proficient – with clients, with colleagues, and with each other. People in the business community have shared that they often dread the idea of attending diversity training, as it seems to imply that they are doing something wrong that needs to be corrected. CultureALL moves beyond this negative stigma of training, providing learning experiences that stimulate dialogue, create understanding, and build trust among multicultural teams.
• Community Programs – CultureALL is happy to partner with organizations in the community to provide cultural programs for their clients or events. From youth service organizations like Big Brother Big Sisters, to large community events like the World Food and Music Festival, our cultural presentations can be adapted to serve any age group or audience size. A primary focus for the current year is expanding programming for seniors. As this population continues to age, it becomes increasingly important to help keep seniors active and engaged as members of the community and provide opportunities for them to explore its growing diversity.
CultureALL's work i helps to create an environment of openness and respect, where diversity is embraced and celebrated, and where all Iowans are prepared to live and work as members of an increasingly interconnected global community.
Our programs focus on discovering more than a culture's superficial differences in language, custom, or costume. CultureALL Ambassadors share stories of their life journeys, challenging participants to look at issues from a different perspective, ask questions, and examine their own preconceived attitudes, beliefs, and fears. What they learn helps break the cycle of prejudice and helps them become more open, compassionate, and accepting of the differences of others. CultureALL strengthens our community, inspiring the possibility that every person offers a unique and positive contribution to the broader society. This helps Iowa to becoming a more vibrant and desirable place for everyone to live, work and play.