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Sitting Down With Des Moines By Degrees' Foundation CEO, Emily Westergaard

Posted on 03/08/2019 at 3:34 PM

Iowa AMA is excited to host “Bingo and Beer Benefiting By Degrees” next month at Flix Brewhouse for a night of BINGO and trivia to benefit the By Degrees Foundation. As we get ready for the big event, we wanted to share a little more about this great organization. We sat down with Emily Westergaard, CEO of the By Degrees Foundation, and asked her to share more with our members.

Check out her interview below, and make sure to register to save your seat!

Tell us a little bit about the foundation. How was it formed? How long has it been around? Who does it impact?By Degrees logo

By Degrees was founded in 1990 as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as the Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation,​​​​​​​ and originally operated as an affiliate of the national I Have a Dream network. Our original goal has remained the same after almost three decades: help more Des Moines students graduate from high school and go on to receive postsecondary education.

Since our founding, we have worked to increase high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates in Des Moines’ most underserved communities. We originally operated using a cohort model (used from 1990 to 2018), which identified and supported small groups of students throughout their entire academic careers, providing resources and programming to meet their needs in preparation for the future. We worked with and supported these students throughout high school and then providing them with postsecondary tuition assistance.

Using the original model, we launched three cohort programs of around 45 students at a time:

  • Moulton Elementary 5th graders in 1990
  • Homes of Oakridge 1st graders in 1996
  • King Elementary 1st graders in 2006

In the spring of 2018, our King Elementary cohort of students graduated from high school. Of the students who maintained contact with our program, 95% graduated from high school and 70% began postsecondary journeys in the fall of 2018. Support for our graduated cohort students remains strong, regardless of where they are in their postsecondary and post-graduation journeys.

You were affiliated with the "I Have a Dream Foundation". Why did you choose to become a local organization?

On December 5, 2018, we disaffiliated from the national network. We chose to become a local organization in order to better customize our programing to meet the needs of our students, and create local solutions to fit the central Iowa community. Through the years, our model has expanded from helping 50 students at a time, to whole schools of students, and we’re now able to support over 1,000 students in the Des Moines community. As we add more schools, this continues to grow.

Our new name, By Degrees, reinforces our belief that incremental changes can have a significant long-term impact on a child’s future. Through disaffiliation and this name change, we believe we are better able to serve the Des Moines community as a local and independent nonprofit focused on a future-ready approach to education.

We also love the name, because we recognize the kind of significant, long-term impact for each student that we aim for does not happen suddenly. It happens in hundreds of small increments—or by degrees.

How long have you been with By Degrees? What drew you to the organization?

I joined the organization in 2010, and knew quickly that this role was the perfect fit for me. Every day, I get to use my skills and experience in fundraising, community organizing and nonprofit management, to ensure more kids have life-changing educational opportunities, just like I did. Education is incredibly important to me personally as well as professionally. I was born and raised in Des Moines and graduated from North High School. I attended Grinnell college, which was possible because I had incredible mentors and teachers in middle and high school that helped me navigate the complex path making Grinnell College possible for me.

​​​​​​​What should we watch for in 2019 for By D​​​​​​​egrees?

​​​​​​​We are very excited to begin expansion into North High School, where our kindergarten through 8th graders attend high school, and pursue opportunities to expand into additional elementary schools. We believe breaking down the systemic cycle of poverty is best achieved through business and community partnerships that benefit more students and families, and are focused on affecting change through whole neighborhoods.

How can people support By Degrees?

We strive to make sure donors to By Degrees understand the impact their investments are making. Whether it’s a gift of $20 or $20,000, we want every donor to know how we’re making a difference for the students we serve. Our “Sponsor a Scholar” program (for gifts of at least $1,000), enables donors to make a deeper connection with the students we support. Through the Sponsor a Scholar program, donors will hear from our students regularly, and can participate in events at the school throughout the year. We also host two annual events. Our spring event, called Sweet Dreams, will be on April 30th. More info on events and donation information is available at

What kind of volunteer opportunities are there?

We are currently developing volunteer opportunities and encourage people to reach out to us as interested.

Are there other ways to get involved?

We are always looking for energetic people to join our event committees! We hold two large events throughout the year and love to get more members of the community involved. If you’re passionate about education and enjoy a good party, reach out!

Is there anything else we didn't ask that you'd like to share with our readers?

I’ll leave you with a quick statistic: Research shows that $500 in a college savings account makes a student three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. This fact led us to develop our unique College Savings Account program, where all students at Findley Elementary have the chance to earn up to $200 per year into their own CSA through meeting personal, academic, and family milestones. We know that $500 (or $2,000 if they stay in our program for all 13 years) won’t pay for all postsecondary costs, but we know it’s enough to start the conversation.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

About Emily: Emily Westergaard is the CEO of the By Degrees Foundation (formerly called the Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation), which works to ensure more kids graduate from high school and pursue education after high school. As the chief professional officer of the organization, Emily has led the development of an innovative new model for program delivery called the Dreamer Academy. Launched in 2014, the Dreamer Academy is the first of its kind in the nation to partner with public schools and create long-term, sustainable, and proactive support for students in under-served neighborhoods, and to pair th​​​​​​​at support with comprehensive financial capacity building and college savings accounts.

Emily has over 15 years of experience fundraising and managing programs within community organizations and higher education institutions. She has a Masters in Public Administration from Drake University, her Bachelor’s in International Development from Grinnell College, and spent her first few years after college as the Research Associate at the Desert Research Foundation in southern Africa. Emily is in the current Leadership Iowa class, a co-chair for Neighbors for Growth, which is working to pass a local option sales tax in Des Moines, and volunteers with United Way, Polk County Early Childhood Iowa and the John Stoddard Cancer Center. She’s also a Girl Scout Troop Leader.

Let's Go Hyper-Digital with IP Targeted Ads

Posted on 02/28/2019 at 4:30 PM

By Keith Snow, President, B2E Data Marketing

As marketers, we’re always in search of the next greatest thing that ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​will maximize sales and in​​​​​​​crease ROI. As an industry, we’ve veered into a space where marketing campaigns are no longer successes or failures based on creative alone; campaigns are won or lost based on data, targeting and technology. Being a data guy, this is exciting! 

Have you heard the term hyper-digital? Hyper-digital is what happens when data and technology are incorporated into online advertising. Gone are the days of spraying online ads all over the internet – they’re not very cost effective, they present attribution issues when calculating ROI, and they are ignored because they are being shown to people who are not your prospects.

IP addresses: everyone with internet has one. Households or businesses, makes no difference really. In the new hyper-digital world, online ads can be served up directly on a computer or device at the address being targeted. Today’s technology has streamlined this tactic and created greater efficiency and accuracy, which means you get more for your money. But buyer beware, not all IP-targeted services are the same! Be careful what you sign up for.

The proof is in the results.

You can scour the internet for examples of the lift seen when IP targeted ads are paired with direct mail campaigns or other targeted campaigns. Outrageous lift can be seen in conversion rates – some sites brag up to 200% lift was seen. In my own experience, we’ve seen a wide range of success, from six to sixty times the result of direct mail alone.

Of course not all IP targeted campaigns can be treated equal. As technology has evolved over time and processes have been improved, there are things to watch out for and things to ensure you do. If your vendor is not up-to-date with the current technology, your results may not be as great as they could be. Here are some key items to watch for.

Match rates matter.

Most databases used today can match around 50 to 75 percent of your list to an IP address. But, what happens after that is the differentiator in programs. A strong IP targeted program will be able to guarantee 95 percent or greater accuracy that it’s the right household being targeted, which is a pretty important piece of the puzzle.

Cookies are old school.

In the early days of targeted ads, cookies were used to track people around the internet. These worked ok when people only used one browser and one device. In today’s multi-device world, targeting with cookies is just going to give you a reporting headache. Ultimately, you won’t be tracking people you’ll be tracking devices and inflating your engagement numbers, leaving it hard for you to prove results. Alternatively, IP-based targeting allows engagement to be counted at the household level, regardless of how many different devices are being used. Another positive for IP-based targeting is that your ads won’t disappear when someone clears their cookies.

Match direct targets whenever possible.

Why spend extra money when you don’t have to? IP-targeted ads are one of the most cost-effective means of advertising online because there is so little waste. Response rates will be higher because your message is being put in front of the right people. Some vendors still utilize and promote something called “cluster targeting.” With cluster targeting, your ad is displayed to a geo-location or area, not a specific 1:1 address. In some scenarios this may make sense to do, for instance if you’re having a grand opening and want to alert the community. But, if you have a specific mailing list to target, IP targeted ads can and should be delivered directly to the IP address you are targeting. That is all that is needed for success.

Report the truth.

Today’s technology should be able to clearly identify for marketers who was matched and who was not. Knowing this helps with reporting, ROI calculations and allows you an opportunity to market to the unmatched in a different way. This is an essential piece needed to know the effectiveness of your campaign and be able to match back to sales. The next time you’re looking to boost results of a current marketing campaign, consider going hyper-digital with it. It’s a cost effective, 1:1 match that will be sure to gain your audience’s attention.

About the author:
With over 30 years of Marketing and Technology experience, Keith develops programs and provides business leadership for data marketing, insights, analytics and strategy for B2E clients. Over his career, he has served in the U.S. Army Reserves, been an Applications Developer, Systems Analyst and Marketing Database Director before starting B2E Data Marketing in 2003.

AMA Iowa Membership Transformation

Posted on 02/07/2019 at 3:59 PM

The new year is well underway, and with it, exciting changes are coming for AMA! To make your membership experience even better, and enhance your online experience, AMA’s National Support Center will be transitioning to a new technology platform featuring a redesigned website (, dues structure, and member and chapter resources on February 12.

What’s this mean?

  • The redesigned will deliver an improved user experience, including basic personalization and better functionality.

  • Membership types, flat fee dues structure, expiration date/membership term, and Group Membership policies will be transformed and simplified. Below are notable new details in these areas.

What else do I need to know?

  • From January 31 through February 11, members will not be able to access AMA Support Center data or make any transactions.

  • The blackout period will not impact the AMA Iowa website.

Exciting changes for

The website transition introduces a new Community area of This is where customers and members of AMA communities can connect with one another and get answers to their questions about the AMA.

What else do I need to know?

Key areas of the AMA community area are:

  • My Groups: This area offers Salesforce chatter groups where like-minded individuals can communicate and collaborate with one another.

  • Get Help: This area is comprised of Salesforce knowledge articles that deliver information and resources related to AMA memberships, products, and services. Visitors can quickly find answers to their common questions using keyword search

Updates to Membership Types & Pricing

AMA is simplifying membership, and consolidating current membership categories into two simple types: Members and Student Members.

What else do I need to know?

  • These membership changes mean changes to due structures, with one simple flat rate for members, an annual charge of $300.

  • Student Dues will remain unchanged, with a one year student member rate of $50 + chapter dues. Upon graduation, student members will continue to receive a discount code giving them one free year as a member.

Membership Terms (When Your Membership Expires)

The term of Membership is changing to rolling. What’s this mean? Rather than expiring at the end of the month which you joined, your membership will expire on the exact date one year later. For example, if you join on January 10, 2019, your membership will expire on January 9, 2020.

What else do I need to know?

  • Both the $30 application fee AND the 30-day grace period will be eliminated.

  • Your membership will lapse on the expiration date.

Updates to Group Memberships

A new Group Discount Program will replace the current Group Membership Program. A group will consist of 3+ memberships paid for by a single user and will be available to Members for 1-year memberships. Student Members and multi-year memberships will not be eligible.

Group Pricing will be for one year:

  • Groups of 3 to 9: $255 per individual.

  • Groups of 10+: $225 per individual.

  • Groups of 50+: Can contact AMA Customer Service to discuss pricing options.

Group Discounts will be purchased online by a Group Contact:

  • Upon purchase, the Group Contact will receive a group code to distribute to all the individuals in the group.

  • The group code will be valid for 30 days after purchase and cannot be used for more than the number of memberships purchased.

  • Each individual in the group must register for membership online and enter their group code in the “promotional code” box to pay for the memberships.

  • No refunds will be issued for unused Group Discount memberships.

What else do I need to know?

  • The term of membership for each individual in the group will begin on the day he/she registers using the group code; each Member’s term will expire one year later.

  • Group Contacts can add additional individuals to the group at a later time by contacting AMA Customer Service.

  • Memberships purchased as part of the Group Discount program will be owned by each individual Member. Each Member retains his/her non-transferable membership until expiration. An employer purchasing a Group Discount cannot take a membership mid-term from one employee and give (or transfer) it to a different employee.

What’s Not Changing? Your Member Perks!

  • Iowa’s Best Networking – With nearly 400+ members, you will have a chance to network with Iowa’s top marketers

  • Monthly Programs – Top speakers and marketing minds from around the country travel to our backyard every month to share their knowledge. You’ll pay member rates – a savings of $15 a luncheon!

  • Certification Discounts – Become a Professional Certified Marketer and show you’re serious about your career. Members save up to $200 on exam fees.

  • Downloadable Tools – Access to over 100 ready-to-use, downloadable tools and templates in the AMA Marketer’s Toolkit so you can make quicker, smarter business decisions.

  • Discounted Promotional Products – Get free shipping, great pricing and design help on promo products purchased through The AMA Shop.

  • Volunteer and Leadership Potential – Develop your leadership skills through opportunities to serve on the Board of Directors.

If you have questions about your membership or about joining AMA Iowa, please email us at We’re happy to help!

2019 AMA Experience Speaker: Crystal Olig

Posted on 01/10/2019 at 9:00 AM

Crystal Olig is a digital strategist who focuses on creating data-driven marketing and lead generation programs for clients using paid and digital media, including text, display and video advertising on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. With nearly 15 years of digital experience for marketing agencies and in-house marketing departments, she is an expert in creating excellent user experiences through websites, apps, marketing automation and email marketing tools. She leads Lessing-Flynn’s team of digital and media specialists, and when not chillin’ with the Flynnies, she can be found tooling around Johnston with her two little boys and yellow lab in tow.

I’m excited to share my digitally-focused expertise at this year’s AMA Experience Event with my presentation “Your Website Might Be a Slacker… How to know if it’s working hard enough for you.” Your website never sleeps, but is it a little lazy? We’ll talk about how to use data and clear information architecture to drive a greater understanding of your customers, capture sales leads and create an engaging user experience — making it one lean, mean, conversion machine.

You’ll leave with new ideas on ways to grow results from the web and more including:

  • Key insights to look for in Google Analytics
  • Inexpensive tools you can easily try out on your own site
  • Tips for information architecture cleanup
  • Ways to convince key stakeholders that not everything has to go on the homepage

Join us for the 2019 AMA Iowa Experience event on February 22, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn in West Des Moines. Meet Crystal and listen in on other speakers to get you moving ahead in the marketing world! Register here.

2019 AMA Experience Speaker: Sima Dahl

Posted on 01/03/2019 at 9:50 AM

Personal Branding is an Action Verb
By: Sima Dahl

I have been a member and served on the board of the AMA since college, and there is no other audience that I revere more than you, my peers. My journey is every passionate marketer’s journey, filled with twists and turns and even 180’s, and I cannot wait to share with you what I know about attracting opportunity, generating referrals, and chasing your professional dreams.

I spent the first 20 years of my career as an award-winning B2B corporate marketer, building brands and crafting messages to support the complex sale. Thirteen of those years were in high-tech, a volatile career at best. As I’m fond of saying, "I've had more jobs than boyfriends." #TrueStory

Ten years ago, I found myself at a professional crossroads. I was in between jobs, consulting on a freelance basis, and contemplating my next move. Then the phone rang. It was a qualified inbound lead - a referral from someone I knew in high school but hadn’t seen since. After winning what turned out to be a significant piece of work, I found myself obsessing about how someone I knew 30 years ago could send such a perfect opportunity my way… And the Sway Factor™ was born.

I took the plunge and started my business. I doubled down on Sway Factor, initially focusing on my online presence and soon realizing that every conversation was a sales opportunity; every interaction, online or off, a marketing opportunity. Today I am privileged to teach audiences around the globe these same principles… driven professionals, sales leaders, business owners… any go-getter ready to stand out, stay relevant, and be in demand.

Is that you? Are you ready to rise to the occasion, step out of your comfort zone and take thoughtful risk?

Say yes. Join me at the AMA IOWA EXPERIENCE event. Learn how your Airplane Pitch, your Digital Footprint, even your investment in AMA Iowa can help you forge a strong personal brand that attracts more opportunity and catapults your career.

Join us for the 2019 AMA Iowa Experience even on February 22, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn in West Des Moines. Meet Sima and listen in on other speakers to get you moving ahead in the marketing world! Register here

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