Teacher’s Toolkit

With recent persecution of immigrants within a broken federal immigration system, DSM SURJ created a toolkit for Iowa teachers to support their immigrant students around four key areas: legal resource listings, home preparedness, in-school bullying, and mental health. The toolkit provides up to date links on key immigration issues and local resources. Des Moines public schools has 6000 ELL students and is a designated sanctuary district. The teaching staff is 90 percent white. SURJ consulted with national and local immigrant-led organizations to develop the materials. SURJ performed training workshops in local schools and circulated the toolkit throughout Iowa.

Resource Toolkit for Teachers

Economic Equity

DSM SURJ is pushing economic equality by using our large network to thoughtfully support people-of-color-owned businesses and other enterprises in the Des Moines area. This strategy has been used in many cities to redirect resources to companies that have had additional burdens towards developing sustainable business.

Please make efforts to support these entities–and spread the word in your various networks! 

START HERE: The Directors Council’s Black Iowa Business Directory


MARCH 2021

The Zone of Comfort – Life Balance Center
Owner and Practitioner: LaTonya Shook, LMT
Address: 3829 71 st Street, Suite B-1, Urbandale

For more than twenty years, LaTonya Shook has been helping people obtain balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. She seeks to respectfully provide natural wellness education and services, offering several modalities with integrity and wisdom. A licensed massage therapist, LaTonya has a great toolbox of means to enhance wellness, including Swedish Massage Therapy, relaxation coaching, foot reflexology, hot stone massage,
tuning forks, and others. One technique she employs is cupping therapy, an ancient form of medicine used to help with pain and inflammation and as a type of deep tissue massage and an aid to general well-being. LaTonya also offers relaxation coaching to assist us over the tough spots in life.

In addition to services, the Zone of Comfort offers products to help us reach
balance. There’s LaTonya’s LeS’on (a pure, natural body butter that melts into your
skin), LaTonya’s LeS’on Skin Nutritional Soap (natural soaps with glycerin and
hemp oil), and Shungite Energy Bracelets. (Shungite is a rare carbon-rich stone that
LaTonya fashions into bracelets with jewelry beads such as amethyst, tiger eye, or
rose quartz.)

LaTonya would love to work with you to help you naturally assist your well-being.


Chellie’s Sugar Shack Bakery

Owner and Baker: Rachelle Long

Curbside pickup: The Foundry, 111 South 11th Street, Suite 300, West Des Moines.

Phone: (515) 554-7731.



In the mood for comfort or celebration? Either way, Chellie’s Sugar Shack offers delicious treats fresh baked just for you. You can choose from cookies, cakes, cobblers, cupcakes, and pies, all in a variety of flavors. Sweet potato pie is a holiday favorite, though Chellie is best known for her amazing sugar cookies.  She can decorate them to order, from a sports logo to a birthday message for a coworker or loved one. Ordering from the online menu is easy!

Chellie’s Sugar Shack is a licensed online home bakery and a certified Targeted Small Business. 


Cellular Advantage, an agent of US Cellular

Store Manager: Romell Brown

3829 100th Street, Urbandale – Phone: (515) 331-0000

Jordan Creek Town Center, 101 Jordan Creek Pkwy – Phone: (515) 369-7700



Cellular Advantage is an award-winning Authorized Agent of US Cellular, providing US Cellular plans, services, and network. Its manager, Romell Brown, has been helping folks with their phones and more for fifteen years, so he knows how to meet our needs. Cellular Advantage offers unlimited data with payback, data backup, and no activation fees, but Romell especially takes pride in their professionalism and customer service, with tech support that’s offered at no extra charge. In addition to the latest technology, Cellular Advantage has several initiatives that help support our community, such as Spanish-speaking associates; sponsorship dollars for local events and teams; and free text, voice, and data overage for communities impacted by natural disasters. Romell is guided by the core values of customer focus, ethics, community pride, and diversity.

Here are just two of the many reasons to check out Cellular Advantage, where Romell Brown will put your needs at the forefront:

·       The latest Samsung Galaxy S21 lineup is now available, so it’s a great time for the promos and discounts that Romell is offering on these new phones.

·       The high-speed mobile or home internet abilities offered by Cellular Advantage are unique. Because the wireless signal comes from cell phone towers, we don’t have to put up with the annoying weather impacts that happen with some internet providers!


Roots to Branches Genealogy
Owner: Ricki King
Call or Text: (515) 779-4394

Are you interested in learning more about your family history but don’t know how to get started? Do you have some experience but you’re too short on time to do the research? Ricki King is a professional genealogist who can assist you whether you’re a beginner or an experienced researcher. She has extensive training and experience, so she’s well qualified to do the research and provide you with a written report of her findings. She can help with a research plan, retrieve Iowa documents, find or follow up on clues when you’ve hit a brick wall in your own research, help with logs, organize your records, and more. She’ll visit with you regarding how much time you want her to work, so you can
keep the cost within your budget. Ricki is truly interested in helping people with this task, which can be complicated and sometimes even overwhelming.

Learn more at her detailed website, or contact her using the information above. Ricki would love to assist you in your journey to learn more about your family history.


Owner: L & Co. Cleaning
Phone: 515-494-6564

We are a local (Latina-owned) Des Moines cleaning business. We specialize in residential cleaning and offer a variety of cleaning services. We operate in the greater Des Moines area and have over 1

8 years of cleaning experience! Competitive prices. Pricing for services varies depending on: size of home, cleaning schedule, flooring in home, etc. Contact us today for a free estimate!

JUNE 2019

Cortney Ewing Estates
Owner: Cortney Ewing, Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group Realtors, 2425 N. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny, IA
Phone: (515) 224-8609
Cell: (312) 718-4611
Website: (Enter Cortney Ewing Estates and you’ll find it!)

Cortney Ewing is a realtor specializing in first-time homebuyers. She’ll help you find grants to help with closing costs and down payments, and she works with trusted lenders to help ensure you can purchase the home of your dreams. Cortney serves both sellers and buyers, and she’ll be happy to put her skills to work to meet your needs.

Pyramid Theatre Company
Formed under the leadership of Ken-Matt Martin and Jiréh Breon Holder
Stoner Theater, Civic Center, 221 Walnut, Des Moines, IA

The mission of Pyramid Theatre Company is to provide a gateway to the arts for the Des Moines community by illuminating the presence of Black artists in the theatre canon and providing a means of artistic expression to emerging Black voices. We’ve highlighted this business in the past, but wanted to remind you that the new season is here. Productions this year include Too Heavy for Your Pocket, which involves the courageous journey of the Freedom Riders into the Deep South during the summer of 1961, and How I Learned What I Learned, a one-man show about playwright August Wilson. Shows begin on June 7 and continue during much of June.

MAY 2019

Bottle & Bottega
Owners: James and Bridget Neely
1301 Locust Street, Suite E, Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 505-7111

We’ve profiled this business before, in 2017, but it’s time for an update. Bottle & Bottega now has its own venue, next to the sculpture park in downtown Des Moines. Bottle & Bottega hosts BYOB art parties where you’re guided to create your own art while enjoying a wine of your choosing. They offer a fun alternative to an ordinary night out or the kind of tired business outing where everyone is bored silly. Bottle & Bottega provides all necessary art supplies and hands-on instruction from an experienced, encouraging artist who knows how to guide you through the process. You can have your own private gathering to celebrate a birthday, have a bachelorette party or a baby shower, host a Creating for a Cause paint-and-sip charitable fundraiser, do team building for your business or non-profit—for whatever reason you want. Or you can attend a public event on your own or with friends, choosing from the many choices available. You can paint on canvas, glass, wood, or other options. You can paint your pet or choose from many designs that are excellent for this kind of painting. Bottle & Bottega offers a great way to uncork your creativity and create lasting memories.

Galdamez Hardscaping and Landscape
Owner: Pedro Galdamez
Phone or text (text preferred): (515) 822-7336

Installation of all kinds of home hardscaping projects. Retaining walls, brick patios, walkways and more. Galdamez also creates garden beds and plantings. Spruce up your space today!

APRIL 2019

Fat Tuesday Cajun Restaurant / Catering
Owner: Steven James
6112 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315
Phone: (515) 285-3552
Hours: Monday thru Saturday 11 AM to 9 PM, Sunday 11 AM to 6 PM

Fat Tuesday has the best Cajun food around! For the last ten years Des Moines has enjoyed this unassuming, Mardi Gras-themed spot, featuring Creole and Cajun cuisine & homey soul food, plus beer and wine and the best catfish in town. Catering services are also available. Check it out!

MARCH 2019

Tai Chi: Yang Style 18 Fan Form
Des Moines Community Education Instructor: Anthony Bates
Where: Monroe Elementary School Gym, 2250 30th Street, Des Moines
When: Mondays & Thursdays, April 1 to May 23, 2019, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm (No class 1/21)
Course: G065301D, Cost: $50 for 16 classes

The ancient art of Tai Chi helps strengthen the body, increase flexibility, develop patience, and discipline the mind. Let Anthony Bates guide you in learning this beautiful and beneficial form of Tai Chi. The Fan Form taught in the class incorporates movements from several styles of Tai Chi. Fans may be purchased from the instructor. Ages 12 and up. The registration cost works out to only about $3 per class meeting, so this is a good deal!

To see details about the class: (Sports & Games category, then the 4th listed course along the left side of the screen)

To Register:

Phone: (515) 242-8521


Iowa’s Targeted Small Business Directory

The Iowa Business Development Department operates the Targeted Small Business Program, designed to help women, individuals with minority status, service-connected disabled veterans, and individuals with disabilities overcome some of the hurdles to start or grow a small business in Iowa. You can use the program’s directory to find local businesses owned by minorities.

For Polk County, there are several pages of results. Need to have a video produced? Try TeamStrong, Inc. Need new windows? Check out Titan Roofing and Exteriors, Inc. Have a need for someone to translate Spanish? Spanish Communications Services can help. How about printing services? Iowa Urban Media provides them. Landscaping, child care, IT services, and so much more can be found in this directory. When you have a specific need, we invite you to check out the Targeted Small Business Directory and help support a small business operated by someone with minority status.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. First, go to this page:
  2. From the TSB Type drop-down, select Minority.
  3. If you’re looking for a particular type of business, you can choose from the Product/Service Category choices, which include just about anything you can think of.
  4. To narrow your search to your local area, you can enter a city name or zip code, or you can select a county from a drop-down.
  5. Click Search, and you get a list of all the businesses that meet your criteria.

Clicking on your choice takes you to more detail about the business, including ownership and contact information. (We encourage you to use this information to ensure that the business is still in operation and at the same location.)


Henderson’s Highland Park Funeral Home
Owner: Donna Henderson, F.D.
3500 Sixth Avenue, Des Moines IA 50313
Phone: (515) 309-6550

The caring and experienced professionals at Henderson’s Highland Park Funeral Home will carefully guide you through the aspects of the funeral service, and the many decisions that must be made, with compassion, dignity and respect.  They also offer special funeral services for veterans. If you wish, they’ll help you with pre-arrangements for your own service, which can ease the emotional and financial burdens of your loved ones.


Ankeny Cleaners
Owners: Keith McKay and Bill Kearby
Location: 122 South Ankeny Boulevard, Ankeny, IA 50023
Phone: (515) 963-9522

Ankeny Dry Cleaners has been in business for more than 20 years and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Ankeny Cleaners provides not only regular laundry and dry cleaning services, but also tailoring and leather cleaning. This full-service dry cleaner offers free pickup and delivery.

Owners: Claire and Webster Kranto
Location: Southridge Mall (1111 East Army Post Road, inside the mall on the northwest side next to H&R Block)
Phone: (515) 360-7840

Open by appointment (Call or text 515-360-7840)

Ark-Vayo aims to be the face of modern African fashion. Co-owner Claire Kranto, who studied fashion design at Iowa State University, designs the shop’s bold and colorful suit jackets, dresses, pants, shirts and other items for women, men and children. Everyone can wear this trendy, fashion-forward clothing that is very modern. Many of the items are handmade in Ghana and Malawi from 100 percent cotton. The tailors are paid wages that help them send their children to school and grow their businesses. At its core, the company is focused on sustainability, buying ethically and locally, and giving special attention to the impact of each purchase. Three percent of all sales are donated to Liberia and U.S. charities.

MAY 2018

Whitfield’s Lawn & Garden
Owner: Randy Whitfield
Phone: (515) 710-1812

Whitfield’s provides many types of lawn and landscape maintenance, landscape installation, and snow and ice management. In business since 2002, Whitfield’s is led by Randy Whitfield, who has degrees in Landscape Management and as a Greenhouse Specialist. Whitfield’s gears its services toward each customer’s specific needs. Need a hedge trimmed? Leaves or other lawn debris taken away? Lawn mowed? Yard landscaped? Check out their website to learn more about these and many other ways they can help you.

G&W Electric
Owner: Larry Gatewood
Phone: (515) 554-1647

Whether you require electrician services for your home or your business, you can depend on G&W Electric to handle your needs with the ultimate care. They offer many years of experience working on electric needs of all types. You can choose from many services, such as exterior security lighting, energy-saving lighting, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, landscape lighting, ceiling fan installation and repair, and much more. They handle all types of buildings, both residential and commercial, and they welcome both large and small jobs.

APRIL 2018

Solidarity Microfinance
Program of Iowa Community Capital, a 510(c)(3) non-profit organization
Program Director: Alomgir Hossain
607 Forest Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50314
Phone: (515) 288-3473

The mission of Solidarity Microfinance is to empower women and communities to create economic opportunities through small business loans, support, and savings services. They serve families who are living below the poverty line, so far mostly women, approximately 85% Latino and 15% Black, including many immigrants. To date, Solidarity has made 659 loans, with about 240 cumulative members, who are given additional loans to grow their businesses as they succeed with their earlier loans. Borrowers have increased their annual income by $4100 on average, with 28% of the members having increased their incomes by more than $600 per month!

Many businesses are represented in the Solidarity portfolio, including clothing sales, health products, food sales, cleaning services, a beauty salon, child care, and others. You may wish to donate funds to Solidarity to help fund loans, or you might want to check out one of the following businesses that are working with Solidarity to grow.

Owner: Susy Trujillo
1514 East Grand Avenue, Suite E
Phone: (515) 771-3416

Susy has an Herbalife and fitness center, where you can purchase a healthy drink after a workout class! Therapeutic massage is also available.

Brujis Cleaner
Owner: Valentina Petaton
Phone: (515) 979-7862

Valentina cleans offices, houses, apartments, and businesses. She cleans professionally and cares for your property.

African Store
Owner: Margaret Ajwan
Location: 342 Martin Luther King, Des Moines (near the HyVee)
Phone: (515) 943-8879

Margaret carries a wide variety of clothes and other items, including fun high heels that are loaded with bling! Check out her store and you might find a unique treasure for yourself or as a gift!

MARCH 2018

Kulture Bridge Concepts (KBC)
Owner and CEO, Victor Ayara
Phone: (515) 554-9582

Victor Ayara is a multi-talented journalist, marketer, public speaker, videographer, and musician, holding an MS in communication with a concentration in public relations. He’s working hard to help people of color and immigrants develop digital platforms to market and advertise their businesses. KBC can help create a website, but more important is the creation of video content, using sharp videos that share the stories of their businesses and what they do, often using an interview format. Many of these businesses have good products or services but the only way they’re reaching people is by word of mouth. KBC will help a business realize the potential of online marketing and traffic. Victor Ayara immigrated to the U.S. from Liberia, so he knows about the hurdles immigrants and people of color can face when starting or trying to grow a business here. KBC services are priced very reasonably as a way of reaching out and assisting others.

DSM Brew Coffee Company
300 West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Suite 140
Des Moines
Phone: (515) 259-3634

Equality is at the core of DSM Brew, which proudly features Get Woke in neon on their wall, coffee cup sleeves, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and website. Get Woke is a political term of African American origin which refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social and racial justice. DSM Brew embraces this charge, bringing together people representing Des Moines’ diversity. DSM brew leadership seeks minority employees as part of its hiring practices, as well as banning the box! Employees include people who have immigrated or are first generation, are from numerous countries, or are of African American descent, along with people from other types of minorities. In addition to their hiring practices, they are determined to be a place of conversation for the community around racial and social injustices. Des Moines Brew has become the premiere destination for nitro coffee, hot brew coffee, espresso drinks, gelato, and high tea in downtown Des Moines. This is a local business we can be proud to support, enjoying delicious and interesting food and drinks while engaging in important dialogue. See you there!


HoQ Restaurant
Owners: Suman and Cynthia Hogue
303 East Fifth Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 244-1213

HoQ Restaurant features the finest of Iowa foods, with about 90% of the ingredients coming from local farms. Enjoy delicious, healthy farm-to-table dishes with flavors from around the world, knowing that when you dine at this East Village restaurant, you’re supporting local farmers and sustainable methods.

Owners: Bert and Sara Moody
PO Box 1514, Des Moines, IA 50305
Phone: (515) 223-6122
Mobile: (515) 865-9538

This photography studio handles weddings, high school senior portraits, family portraiture, advertising, video production, action photography, special events, and more. Give them a call when you have photo or video needs and they’ll be happy to help you out!

Kathmandu Restaurant
Owner: Thakur Neupane
4121 SE 14th Street, Des Moines, IA 50320
Phone: (515) 207-1463

This southside restaurant features Nepalese dining. Local feedback has been very enthusiastic—people love this place! Here’s an excerpt from a Yelp review: This is a hidden gem. Absolutely fantastic food, friendly staff. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the food here was. They’ll answer any questions you have about the menu. You can help support a refugee while enjoying delicious Nepalese fare.


State Farm Insurance
Agent: Kimberly Reed
Phone: (515) 274-0411
3812 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312

Kimberly Reed has been in the insurance business for 25 years. She handles both business/commercial and individual insurance, including auto, health, life, and home or renters insurance. Kimberly will be happy to meet with you to find solutions for your insurance needs.

Bouquets of Metal
Owner: Shelly Morrow-Bagby
Etsy website:

We all know that reusing can be even better than recycling. Here’s a great way to reuse! Bouquets of Metal repurposes metal cans. Customer orders welcome, wall art, door décor, fun team flowers. Outdoor décor including spinners, magnets and coasters. Check out the Etsy site to see photos of this brightly colored and beautiful artwork.

Lzaza Indo-Pak Cuisine
Owner: Shaw Mahmood
1409 23rd Street, Des Moines IA 50311
Phone: (515) 381-1121

This restaurant features delicious Pakistani and Indian food, with a buffet option, great service, and they deliver!


Williams Auto Detail
Owner: Kris Williams
Phone: (515) 724-1250

Auto detailing: Tires, upholstery shampooing, polishing, waxing, buffing scratches. Kris will give your car, van, or truck Tender Loving Care!
Depending on the vehicle, prices range from $75 to $150

Jerry’s Lawn Care
Owner: Jerry Leon Thompson
Phone: (515) 441-6760
506 Payton Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50315

Much more than just lawn care, Jerry’s does mowing, leaf removal, small tree removal, debris removal, landscape tear-outs and redesigns, French drains, retaining walls, house painting (interior and exterior), countertops, floors, showers, and vanity tops.

Los Charros Mexican Restaurant
Owner: Sergio Hermosillo
2010 SE Delaware Ave, Ste 230, Ankeny, IA 50021
Phone: (515) 964-4264

To serve you better, we have three separated sections with a total of 25 booths and several large tables for your big groups and parties. Catering is also available. Our Menu has been thoroughly elaborated with dishes from different zones of Mexico and TexMex Style, a little different from what is known around here, like the Traditional Mexican Sopes, Molcajetes, Pollo a la Piña, Santa Fe Enchiladas, Cancun Salad, Fried Mojarra, Fish Tacos, Arrachera Tacos, Tacos Hawaiians, and lots more! Come to celebrate your Birthday with us and get a Free Dessert or if you are Feeling Great, have a Tequila Shot on the house!


Phat Daddyz BBQ and Sports Grill
Best Homestyle BBQ in the Des Moines Area! Catering and Delivery are available!!

Bottle & Bottega
Bottle & Bottega hosts art parties where attendees are guided to create their own art while they eat, drink, and make merry. It’s not an Art Class–It’s an ART PARTY! Scratch the structure. Lose the lecture. Bottle & Bottega is all about friends, a canvas, and a bottle of wine. The only lesson to learn: You DO have an inner artist just waiting to be realized!  This event is NOT BYOB. We look forward to seeing you there!


Safari Restaurant
Owner: Amina Dualle
2734 Douglas Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310

This food is primarily East African, especially Somalian and Ethiopian. Many dishes show the influence of food from India. They are open 9 am to 9 pm every day, unless they run out of food before 9, in which case they close early that day. If you go on a weekend day, it’s best to go early!

The Great Frame Up
Owner: Angela Jackson
5515 Mills Civic Parkway, Ste 150
West Des Moines, IA 50266

The Great Frame Up is dedicated to supporting local artists and creating awareness of noted African American artists. It currently features originals, prints, sculptures and framed artwork of numerous African American and Iowa artists.

Smith’s Auto Detail
Owners: Edina Dedic and Thomas G. Smith III
1985 NW 94th St. Suite E150
Clive, IA 50325

Vehicle detailing, offering various packages (Smith Special, Executive Detail, and Presidential Detail) or à la carte services.

JULY 2017

Suzie’s Sweet Treats
Owner and Baker, Susan R. Wolder-Williams,(515) 447-8070,

Handmade sweet treats made with love. Our creativity is only limited by YOUR imagination. Home of: “Have your cake & cookie, too.”

Susan bakes out of her home. She also does catering. You can hire her for parties, office events, weddings, graduations, birthdays, anything where you want sweet treats. She can create really unique cakes and other treats.

Lewis Lawn & Labor
Owner, Justyn Lewis, (515) 996-5296

Residential and commercial grounds maintenance; Snow and ice maintenance; Landscape construction (retaining walls, etc.); Residential and commercial turf maintenance (coming soon).

Pyramid Theatre Company
The mission of Pyramid Theatre Company is to provide a gateway to the arts for the Des Moines community by illuminating the presence of Black artists in the theatre canon and providing a means of artistic expression to emerging Black voices. The two plays being offered summer 2017 are The Amen Corner by James Baldwin and Mississippi by Jonathan Norton. Performances are held at Stoner Theater.
Contact Pyramid or purchase tickets at the website:

Owner, Lu Spaine, (515) 277-4629
Address: 1141 42nd Street, Des Moines, IA 50311.

Women’s clothing and accessories; Gifts, home décor, musical instruments, fair trade products; All products originate from countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Many of the importers contribute money back to the communities where the products are created. Open: Monday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday  10am – 4pm.

Andrew’s Roofing
Owner, Gerardo Perez, (515) 664-7968,

Roof repairs: Leaks fixed, shingle, complete tear-offs, re-roofing, ice dam removal.  New roofing and Installation; Residential roofing; Gutters and gutter installation.

Men of God Construction
Owner, Tony Williams, (515) 867-6129

Tony is a carpenter. He does fencing, house repairs, lays carpet and hard floors, makes decks, and more.

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