Partners Unlimited
"I learned discipline, focus and perseverance!"


partners Unlimited provides experiential learning through the arts for people who are at risk of delinquency or criminal behavior. We employ specially trained artists who provide opportunities working with all ages in prevention, intervention and aftercare.

We develop long-term programming with groups of people through partnering with schools, social service agencies, community sites, detention facilities, prisons, aftercare programs. We employ professional artists in dance, creative writing, theatre, storytelling, visual arts, music and video making.

Current and Past Programs


Car Banner

Jump In!

partners Unlimited provided statewide programming with Art Car on Parade in 2007! -- Turning hunks o' junk...(think outside the trunk) into fabulous moving art!!

Having worked with youth at 5 Iowa locations, professional artists guided the creative process as youth and staff transformed cars (and a bus) and created performances in music, dance and theatre as they showcased their work in local events and parades. The Art Cars were featured at the Iowa State Fair Parade and were showcased throughout the State Fair.

The Art Cars were featured at "Red Nose Night" at the Knoxville Raceway during the 360 Knoxville Nationals. All Art cars were auctioned off Saturday, August 25, 2009 at the Knoxville Championship Cup Series.

Art Car Sites

Click here to view the Art Car brochure

Gear Up to Volunteer!

Bring in the Clowns!

Seeking volunteers to join a Red Nose Clown Brigade that will join the Art Cars in the Iowa State Fair Parade on August 8th. Workshops with a professional clown formerly of Ringling Brothers Circus, will be conducting workshops on make-up, movement and routines in Des Moines on July 31-Aug 2.
Fee is $30 + $15 for make-up kits.

Also, if you would like to help with publicity, working at or coordinating events or help with fundraising contact .


Liz Kruidenier
Iowa Health Systems
Pioneer Hybrid
Greater Des Moines Community Foundation
Simonson & Associates
Silent Rivers design/build
Buzz Des Moines
Midwest AgriTrade
Beebout Law Offic

PACE Juvenile Justice Center/Scavo Campus/Child & Family Urban Ministries

partners Unlimited recently completed 3-youth programs in Des Moines with youth in prevention at Trinity United Methodist Church in the Child and Family Urban Ministries afterschool program with a Native American artist and 5th grade Moulton Elementary School boys. We also completed two theatre programs; one at Scavo Campus an alternative school and PACE Juvenile Justice Center. Each of these programs has brought a much needed venue for expression with our kids.

Comments that followed each of the youth performances that occurred in 2002-2003:

One young lady at Scavo Campus (an alternative school for learning) gleamed with some embarrassment as she described what happened when she returned to her classroom following the student assembly they had just performed. As she walked into the room the entire class broke into applause!

Staff were impressed at how the young audience had responded to the performance. Without prompting, the audience gave their peers a standing ovation! The staff exclaimed that this was the best response they had ever seen to a performance at Scavo.

Following the PACE, "!Improv This!" performance, staff commented that every kid in the place now wants to participate! To see their faces shine with pride is beyond words.

A young boy said to the artist, "I wish we could meet with you every day because this is the only time I don't feel angry and hate everybody."

These 3-programs were funded through a Pregnancy Prevention Grant, facilitated through United Way and the Polk County Fostering Male Involvement Initiative. This is a unique opportunity to decrease delinquency and provide the tools for healthier choices for these young people without specifically addressing pregnancy prevention. The programming is successful due to the guidance of the professional artist leading the creative process through self-expression. When engaged in the arts, individuals are scarcely aware they are learning!

Iowa Correctional Institution for Women/6-month Storytelling and Dance Programs

Audience Comments following the "Metanoia...Changing Mind, Body & Soul (dance and storytelling) production:

What a powerful performance last night!

Truly it was my privilege to see this performance and do anything at all to help. The project is of deep value not only to the women/men who participate …of perhaps even greater value to their families and the communities they will rejoin. I see a couple of productions on Broadway every year, and it is a very rare one that has the power of the pieces I saw the other evening.

This program is a freight train, get on board and be a part of it or you're going to wish you had!... In one word, it would be HOPE. (Toni Lampley)

It was fabulous-I don't think words can describe the many feelings I had as I watched and listened to the women. I can only imagine what it must be like to work through the entire process and watch the evolution that we saw in the performance.

I was so sorry I was unable to attend your event. I heard from several women the following day at the Business Record's "Women of Influence" event at the Marriott that it was absolutely splendid - really a moving experience. That made me doubly sorry not to be there.

"This is art without a filter!" ...Pat Oswald

Inmate comments:

"I want to be a good guy too!"

"My self-confidence was zero-I learned discipline, focus, and perseverance, how to set goals-with my limitations in mind, but not give into them."

"I've learned how to give and accept encouragement and compliments. Everyone knows when I finally get a move right. I yell, I did it?"

"I learned discipline, focus and perseverance."

"We've been given the opportunity to see that whatever we set our minds to, anything is possible." One woman attributes the dance program to healing an infection she has suffered from for 3-years. Another is able to accomplish dance lifts and has greatly reduced her arthritis medication due the dance program. We repeatedly hear how the program has boosted moral, increased self-worth, provides a great stress release.

"When things become too stressful-my kicks just get higher!" Some women are able to commit and follow through with something for the first time in their lives. "There are no words to describe the feeling. The only way to say it is to dance to the music and express it in movement."

The women said that the greatest gift was impacting the lives of other inmates who came to watch the program.

The storytelling and dance programs at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women were funded by the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy.

Comments form the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility

"My whole attitude changed." (inmate)

"It improves reading, writing... behavior." (Instructor at the prison)

"I can get along with people I never got along with before." (inmate)

Comments from the Fort Des Moines Release Center

"Pride motivates us, and that's what the art is all about."

"It's been a big changing force in my life!"


Umbrella agency to coordinate artist & site planning, programming, & follow-up Professionally trained artists working with high-risk individuals in dance, theatre, visual art, storytelling, music, or literature Community outreach through culminating exhibit/performance Community connections to local arts resources for ongoing participation Program documentation for evaluation

Through the creative arts we can help you develop stronger programs that:

  • Improve institutional attitude
  • Keep kids in school
  • Help people succeed who have a history of high-risk or criminal behavior
  • Create safer communities
  • Create stronger families
  • Establish trust among multi-cultural communities
  • Stop cycles of abuse and self-destructive behaviors
  • Help individuals live more productive lives and contribute to the community


  • Improves academics
  • Improves physical, mental & emotional health
  • Improves behavior
  • Improves self-worth
  • Improves institutional attitude
  • Improves family and community relationships