Urban Dreams has been awarded a $250,000 donation from the Wellmark Foundation to help purchase and renovate a building that will be more expansive than its current facility.

The Wellmark gift is part of a larger $1 million capital campaign that was launched in November. The contribution brings the campaign nearly halfway to its goal.

Izaah Knox, executive director of Urban Dreams, said the nonprofit’s new facility, the Wellmark Urban Dreams Community Center, will allow the agency to further its vision of “creating equal opportunities and access for people to pursue their dreams and succeed,” according to a news release announcing the donation.

“This new space opens a world of possibilities and will allow us to further expand not only our programming, but our partnerships within the community,” Knox said in the release.

The center, at 1615 Second Ave., will be 11,109 square feet, which is 10,000 square feet larger than its current facility at 601 Forest Ave. It will house all of Urban Dreams’ Des Moines operations, including an expanded food pantry, additional community event space and more areas for individualized programming.

Urban Dreams offers support services for those experiencing substance abuse, chemical dependency or mental health concerns. It provides workforce development programming for underrepresented populations and offers community and cultural connection opportunities to residents across Iowa.

Cory Harris, Wellmark Foundation board chairman and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield president and CEO, said Urban Dreams’ work aligns with the company’s mission to improve the overall health of the communities it serves.


“The Wellmark Urban Dreams Community Center will allow Urban Dreams to assist more Iowans and create positive outcomes by improving their quality of life, through programs and assistance with housing, jobs, education, access to healthy foods and more,” Harris said.

Suzanna de Baca, president of Business Publications Corp., the parent company of the Business Record, and BPC Chairman Connie Wimer along with Ahmed Agyeman, director of the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, are tri-chairs on the capital campaign.