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You are Here :: Mission & ProgramsHEART Program
July 23, 2017
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 The HEART (Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training) Program is a hands-on learning experience for young people to achieve their goals of attaining a high school diploma while transforming Dubuque’s most blighted neighborhood back into a livable, walkable community for working families.

HEART BridgeHEART in ActionMost Recently Completed Project

More about our summer partnership.


Partnership: HEART is based on Four Mounds’ model of partnering to serve at-risk youth.  
Partners include:  

  • Four Mounds Foundation
  • City of Dubuque
  • Dubuque Community Schools
  • Dupaco Community Credit Union
  • Four Oaks of Iowa
  • Northeast Iowa Community College

Jordan reframes a doorway on Washington Street

How HEART Works: Students that were first identified as at-risk of dropping out are now leading a community revitalization effort through relevant service learning activities. We work with approximately 15 young people a year, full-time, every school day and throughout the summer, with most youth putting in over 500 hours a year in service to the community. Dubuque Community Schools sees over 140 students drop out each year. HEART helps capture those them with an opportunity to earn high school diplomas while broadening options for post-secondary education, certifications, and employment. HEART immerses young people in a 10 month, full-time program and runs an additional special program over the summer. Students typically spend 1-2 years in the program.

Service Learning in 2014-15:

Current project: Restoration of historic 1631 Jackson St.

Community projects in 2014-15 include: repair and restoration of a section of the Bridge Pavilion at Eagle Point Park, deconstruction of Angie's Bar, and assistance on the Grants to Green project at the Four Mounds Grey House.

Completed housing projects in 2014: Rehabilitation of 2059 Jackson St, 1501-03 Bluff St., and 1421 Elm St.

Collin prepares a window sash for glazing, transforming this historic sash for energy efficiency

Target Population:

  • Students at Dubuque Community Schools
  • Age 16 and older
  • Students who may be at-risk of dropping out
  • Students utilizing IEPs
  • Teacher referred
  • Voluntary participation
  • About 60% of students hail from low-income downtown & surrounding neighborhoods 
  • 90% qualify for free or reduced lunch

Students and staff pose in front of a completed home with the proud new homeowner

Trainings & Certifications:

  • Daily construction training through homebuilding
  • Financial literacy & competency testing
  • Team building on the Four Mounds Challenge Ropes Course
  • Aid through the Red Cross
  • Lead Paint Worker certification through the City of Dubuque 
  • Tool & safety training

HEART’s accomplishments

  • Conversion of 37 apartments into 27 owner-occupied homes
  • Supporting other non-profit organizations with over 40 more community projects
  • 92% graduation rate
  • The bulk of the revitalization efforts over the past decade in the 65 block Washington Neighborhood (a low-income census tract) has been either led or supported by HEART

Before and after on the 20th block of Washington

Performance Sites: 

  • Focus on historic & conservation districts
  • Exterior restorations
  • Complete interior rehabilitations
  • Preservation of community character
  • Greening of properties with energy efficient features and practices
  • Sales to working families and first-time homeowners

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