Who We Are

Our Vision

ASAP envisions a world where all young people have equity of access to the arts and arts education.


Our Mission

ASAP affirms young people through the arts by providing access to quality, engaging arts experiences for lifelong impact.

Girl working on a journal
Three kids in shirts and costumes running
Three girls in ASAP green shirts performing

Our Core Values

icon - connection


Recognizing that human and social capital are our greatest assets, ASAP is a people-first organization that values the enriching contributions of a diversity of people. ASAP hires, trains, and pays creative professionals as a central tenet of operations. We connect and collaborate with other organizations and with individuals of all ages and abilities. We respect and affirm young people as persons of value.

icon - creativity


Creativity is not only what we teach, but what we value and who we are. As we negotiate a continually evolving landscape, ASAP’s strengths are flexibility and adaptive solutions and systems that anticipate future change. We have built a strong, living network that can expand and take shape to best respond to needs, maximize opportunities, develop talent, influence situations, and forge new ways of solving problems in our community.

Icon - commitment


We are determined, fearless, and persistent in fulfilling our mission. We continuously seek to refine our work, meet challenges, and stand in the gap with those in need. ASAP is passionate about the power of arts engagement and the benefits it brings to the young people we serve. ASAP’s work is relentless; we consistently make decisions based on what is best for kids in Greater Des Moines.

Icon - care


ASAP leads with care, for people and for our work; we approach both with intentionality, honor, and rigor. ASAP maintains high professional and quality standards. We value honest interactions, accuracy, fiscal responsibility, best nonprofit practices, and a culture of life-long learning.

Because of ASAP…

“If you mess up, that’s not a mistake, that’s just practice.”

Because of ASAP…

“If you mess up, that’s not a mistake, that’s just practice.”

ASAP history highlights


ASAP forges a major partnership with Des Moines Public Libraries, to offer weekly series drop-in classes at four library branches, to engage young people who don’t have other after-school activities or opportunities. Piloted at Forest Avenue Library in late spring and summer, the program launches at Forest, East Side, North Side, and South Side Libraries in September.

ASAP expands arts programming to several youth-focused health and human service organizations: Children and Families of Iowa, Orchard Place, and PACE, among them.

ASAP establishes new headquarters, moving out of donated space at St. John’s Lutheran Church, where the program was founded.


ASAP is honored with special recognition in the area of Arts Learning at the Governor’s Arts Awards.

ASAP leads creation of an Inclusion-themed mural at Windsor Elementary School, planned and executed by students, with input from community.


ASAP is one of eleven organizations selected for the pilot Iowa Culture Leadership Cohort, a program of the Iowa Arts Council and State Historical Society.


ASAP is honored with Bravo Greater Des Moines’ Spotlight Award, shining a light on the organization’s work in the arts and culture sector.

ASAP launches a new program partnership with Willkie House, the oldest African American Community Center in Des Moines.

COVID-19 necessitates the creation of a new ASAP program delivery model — one that gives kids access to the arts without being able to meet face-to-face. ASAP develops a catalog of virtual studio programs featuring engaging instructional videos accompanied by supply kits with everything needed to complete the classes. ASAP virtual programs are used extensively in Des Moines Public Schools and Public Libraries throughout the pandemic.


ASAP serves on the Community Partner Equity Team for Des Moines Public Schools, meeting quarterly to review the Equity Plan, policies, and progress toward goals.


After thorough consideration and with extensive community feedback, ASAP suspends programming at its original downtown location, committing instead to go where kids already ARE in out-of-school times. This strategic move eliminates the barrier of transportation and makes the arts more accessible to more children throughout the city.


ASAP is honored with the Governor’s Arts Award for Impact and Accessibility in the Arts, presented by the Iowa Arts Council.

ASAP teams with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines as the arts enrichment partner for Starfish Academy, a pilot summer school program designed to prevent summer learning loss for low-income, academically vulnerable students.

ASAP begins serving early elementary students, grades K–2.

ASAP launches its middle school Drama Club program, directly responding to a need for equity of access. Des Moines Public Schools had removed the one drama course from the middle school catalog, while suburban school districts maintained strong middle school theater opportunities.


ASAP begins a period of rapid, exponential program expansion by partnering with Des Moines Public Schools’ 21st Century grant for quality after-school programming. Participation of students grows from 2 schools to 6 schools, adding a second program day at the downtown location. Middle schoolers, grades 6–8, also become part of ASAP.


ASAP and Evelyn K. Davis Park are awarded “Most Original Entry” in the Iowa State Fair Parade after “flying” a gigantic eagle that the children helped make during ASAP’s 2nd annual Summer Arts Camp.


Arts for the City, Inc. (dba ASAP, the After School Arts Program) becomes a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The newly established board of directors hires Michelle Bolton King as executive director. ASAP begins paying its Teaching Artists to lead studio classes.

The first annual ASAP Summer Arts Camp takes place in Evelyn K. Davis Park, supported by a community-focused Thrivent Builds grant, a national initiative of Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity. Mid-City neighborhood children of all ages enjoy free arts activities every afternoon for a week, reinforcing a positive image of this community hub.


The After School Arts Program begins as an outreach ministry of St. John’s Lutheran Church downtown Des Moines, led by church staff and volunteers, with an advisory planning group of community members. Multidisciplinary arts studio programs serve 40–50 students (grades 3–5) from two urban schools, meeting once per week at a central downtown location. Busing and snacks are provided.


"*" indicates required fields

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.