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Stabilizing Marshalltown’s vulnerable youth is a community effort we’re proud to support

When you’re a homeless teen in Iowa, where can you go for shelter?

YSS is among Iowa’s oldest, most comprehensive youth-focused nonprofits. Its mission is to create hope and opportunity by putting kids first. YSS achieves this through education, counseling and crisis management.

In 2023, Alliant Energy supported YSS with an Impact Grant of $25,000 to help provide safe, stable living situations and individualized support for youth in Ames, Boone, Des Moines and Marshalltown.

YSS advocates and the Marshalltown Police and Community Team collaborate to respond to 911 calls that are social service in nature. The goal is to prevent unnecessary arrests and instead provide services to vulnerable youth, such as placement on a housing list.

Marshalltown is one of four communities where YSS offers its Transitional Living Program (TLP). In 2023, TLP gave 51 young people aged 16-21 a safe living environment plus advocacy support to help them develop self-sufficiency.

After TLP, YSS’s Rapid Rehousing program is often the next step. In 2023, this program helped 47 participants move into stable housing situations with an apartment lease in their own name. YSS gives Rapid Rehousing participants continued advocacy support.

YSS got its start in the 1970s. George Belitsos was a 23-year-old graduate student and Ames/Iowa State University YMCA employee tasked with getting kids to leave the campus area in an effort to keep runaways from being arrested or detained. George walked the streets near the university at night, talking with and listening to the young people he found there. He quickly saw the need for a safe place homeless kids could go for support and friendship.

In 1971, Dr. George, as he’s called now, started a drop-in youth center called Bustopp, a precursor to YSS. Word spread quickly; in its first month, Bustopp gave more than 2,000 teens a safe place to spend time with access to counseling and drug intervention services. Bustopp continued to expand, first into a shelter – the first of its kind in Iowa – then into YSS in 1976.

Since that time, YSS has grown into a statewide organization that runs community-specific programming for youth in six Iowa areas, including Marshalltown.

Dr. George passed leadership to Andrew Allen in 2016. Allen had been a client in 1995 and now serves at YSS president and CEO.

“Thank you, Alliant Energy, for your stewardship of this gift and for your dedication to putting youth first!” Allen said. “Collaboration and commitment are two of our core values and I’m so happy to see them on display in such a high-profile way with exceptional partnerships in our communities.”

As a company with a strong commitment to end hunger and homelessness, Alliant Energy welcomes the opportunity to support Youth Shelter and Services in Marshalltown.

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