St. Mark Youth Enrichment, Local Student Honored at Impact Afterschool Conference

Houtakker one of only three students in state to receive prestigious honor

Dubuque, IOWA–Last weekend, St. Mark Youth Enrichment and one of its students, Lucy Houtakker received awards during the virtual Impact Afterschool Conference hosted by the Iowa Afterschool Alliance.

Houtaker received the 2020 Outstanding Afterschool Student of the Year Award and St. Mark received the 2020 STEM Achievement award.

2020 Outstanding Afterschool Student of the Year Award

Lucy Houtakker – St. Mark Youth Enrichment/Marshall Elementary in Dubuque
Lucy Houtakker was one of three students in Iowa to receive the 2020 Outstanding Afterschool Student of the Year Award. She is a part of St. Mark Youth Enrichment’s Marshall Elementary Program in Dubuque.

The Outstanding Afterschool Student Award honors students who reflect the best of the best among Iowa’s children and youth, based upon the degree to which they represent afterschool programs’ priorities of engagement, good character, academic achievement, and leadership.

In her nomination, St. Mark staff member Rhonda Baule shared, “Lucy is one of the most responsible, kind, compassionate students I have ever met. She is such a wonderful friend and participates in all kinds of activities in the program as well as outside of the program. She always has such a friendly, mature way about her and her personality is like a magnet…you’re just drawn to her. I believe she will grow up to do important things in her life.”

Only two other students are honored with this award.

2020 STEM Achievement Award

St. Mark Youth Enrichment

Presented by the Iowa Afterschool Alliance and the Iowa Department of Education, the STEM Achievement Award was given to St. Mark Youth Enrichment for demonstrating the greatest achievement in STEM programming. Last school year, St. Mark had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program and partner with NASA to bring engaging and authentic hands-on STEM Design Challenges for 3rd and 4th graders at its Peosta Elementary site.

Each year, the Iowa Afterschool Alliance and the Iowa Department of Education honor individuals or organizations that believe strongly in the importance of afterschool programs and are willing to provide tangible support to the issue as well as outstanding students who demonstrate the positive effects of afterschool programs. Awards are awarded to the programs that most exemplify quality programming in that area.

In addition to the awards, staff members Dawn Cogan, Executive Director; Taylor Noel, Director of Programs; and Ron Paar, Program Coordinator presented on creating a culture of accountability and how social emotional learning impacts program quality.

To learn more or to give, visit

# # #

St. Mark Youth Enrichment (formerly St. Mark Community Center) is a non-profit organization that has served the Dubuque Community for 30 years. We provide before and after school programming in four of the Title 1 elementary schools in the Dubuque Community School District as well as programs in Dyersville and Peosta. To learn more, visit

# # #

As a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC), St. Mark Youth Enrichment receives grant support from the Iowa Department of Education to support our-of-school time learning opportunities for students in high-poverty, low performing areas. To learn more about 21CCLC, visit

 # # #