Jaimen Pangborn helps Cedar Rapids’ at-risk youth find their path to success.
In 2011, Pangborn was one of the first employees hired by the Zach Johnson Foundation for its Kids on Course program.
Over the past nine years, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing the program, which provides tutoring, enrichment, mentoring and other support services to help children succeed in school and prepare for college.
“I’ve had the opportunity to create a program that puts kids first and opens the doors for them to excel,” she said.
The program serves over 800 students at eight high poverty schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, beginning when students are in elementary school and following them through their educational career. Many will become first generation college students.
Even before Kids on Course, Pangborn had a long history of serving students and children in need.
“I’ve worked in nonprofits since age 18,” she said.
At Foundation 2, Pangborn worked as a liaison for homeless and runaway youth. At the Area Substance Abuse Council, she educated young people on substance abuse prevention, and at Success Zone, she connected young adults with career and educational opportunities.
She also focused her own post-secondary education on helping youth. Pangborn graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in leisure, youth and human services with an emphasis in not-for-profit youth services. She later attained her master’s degree from Regis University in nonprofit management.
Pangborn’s current role involves managing the Kids on Course sites at Jefferson and Kennedy High Schools. Many of the students she now meets with at her office at Jefferson High School have been with Pangborn since they were in second grade, and she has moved with them from elementary school to middle school and now to high school.
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“I spend my days balancing between being a mentor, coach, parent, teacher, fill in the blanks with whatever’s missing,” she said. “They’re like my own kids.”
In addition to providing school-year and summer learning programming, she may drive students home from school activities when their parents are working, attend a show choir performance or text a student about homework.
“I come alongside them and fill in any gaps that help them be successful,” she said. “Our staff motto is do whatever it takes.”
The students with whom Pangborn works attest to the positive impact she has made on their lives.
“I push myself harder because I know she believes in me,” said one student in support of Pangborn’s nomination for a HER Women of Achievement award.
“I hope throughout the rest of my life, I can demonstrate the same great qualities that I find in her,” said another.
Business 380 spotlights HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.
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