FREE career training. Land a new career in just 6 Months.

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Change Course


Change Course is a career development program that provides training in highly sought-after skills along with leadership and personal development, to give people in Des Moines a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck and launch a career.

Affordable, effective, and short-term career training is almost impossible to find. Change Course has identified highly sought-after careers in our community. We offer free training and pay you to start a new career in as little as four months. Students who have completed the program in other areas of the country are earning on average more than $18 per hour in jobs with upward mobility and full benefits, including health care and paid vacation time.

Freedom Awaits

Change Course graduates complete the program with a new job skill, a livable wage career, and a strong sense of community and support. After graduation, Leaders join the Alumni Association where they will receive continued services, including financial coaching, professional development opportunities, and the opportunity to give back to future Leaders.

Change Course CEO, Joseph Johnson’s testimony


Leaders apply and are accepted into a six-month-long program broken into three phases.

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The first 6 weeks of the program is dedicated to personal and professional growth. We don’t just want Leaders to land a job—we want them to be the best version of themself, so they can find a career that lasts!

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Leaders work to complete a professional certification or pre-apprenticeship course in their selected career track.

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Once Leaders complete the certification stage, they graduate the program by landing a job in their career track. We’ll work to connect them with employers and jobs that fit their skill set.

Tools for Development

  • One-on-one coaching sessions
  • 100+ hours of personal development
  • Up to 35 life and career skills taught

If you’d like more information regarding Change Course, click the button below.


A better future awaits our leaders after they complete their chosen six-month career training program. Change Course offers 35 life and career skills that can be adjusted according to the need of the Des Moines area job market. Our corporate partners keep us informed of the skills they look for in good job candidates as their needs change.

FREE career training with Change Course. Land a new career in just 6 Months.

If you’d like more information, click the button below.

Our Instagram Feed

Our Director of Communications, Bradford Johnson, spoke with host Tej Patil at Chezuba to discuss the origins, mission and future of Change Course. Watch on YouTube or listen on all podcast platforms. Link in bio!
We want to thank JPMorgan Chase for providing the opportunity to attend Spitfire Strategies’ Strategic Communications training. Change Course and other local nonprofits were empowered and given tools to communicate and implement our missions effectively. Our partnerships with these organizations have been invaluable, and we are incredibly grateful for the knowledge and insights we have gained thus far. Thank you!!
On Tuesday, we had an opportunity to join together with many other wonderful nonprofits for the ICGC “Ignite Your Legacy” event. We are so proud to be part of a passionate group of organizations and volunteer leaders who are inspiring, educating and motivating generosity in this city in a way many have never considered before.
Recently, I got in a little fender bender—my fault, unfortunately—and had to bring my Honda Truck in for body repair. I got a rental while my car was being repaired, and when I got to the car rental office, they only had two cars in the lot that the insurance company would pay for: a small Hyundai SUV, or a little red Lexus F-350 sports car. I thought to myself, I’ve never had a little sports car like that! I would look pretty hip as an old guy driving that sharp little sports car! So naturally, I chose the Lexus.
On the first day, I immediately knew it wasn’t for me. It was quick and responsive, but I looked like a carp trying to fit in a sardine can. Getting in and out of that car was embarrassing to say the least, and I was practically sitting on the ground in the driver's seat! The sexy, cool appeal of the car led me to make a decision I regretted.

It made me think of what we work to do for our program participants here at Change Course. They come in and want that sexy, cool job, but it may not fit their strengths, skills, background and real goals in life. We want to take out the risk that comes from jumping right into a job that doesn't fit who they are and who they want to grow to be. That is why the participants must commit to six months of training—because making positive, sustained changes based on the understanding of who you are and utilizing your real strengths—and fitting all that into a career tailored to you doesn't happen overnight. In the beginning, the career-track choice may seem boring, but once the participants realize how well it fits their strengths, they find the pathway to that career very fulfilling. We specialize in empowering, encouraging and developing incredible people out of checkered pasts into the strong, talented, confident individuals they had no idea existed inside of themselves. Then, we just get to sit back and watch as they better their communities and flourish in careers at many great companies in Des Moines.

Joseph Johnson 
For our first ever Leader (participant) Spotlight, we'd like to introduce you to Jeff, one of our current participants and future Change Course graduate! Jeff's story is one of courage and resilience. He has fought through substance abuse challenges that stemmed from low self-worth and ultimately ended in drug-induced psychosis. This led him to rely on disability benefits, creating a cycle that he's worked hard to break. He reached his turning point when he achieved a year of sobriety: this milestone helped him to begin understanding his worth and capacity to change, and set his sights on a healthy path of self reflection, discipline, acts of service and a promising career. His resilience and work ethic is a testament to his surrender to the transformation process, and his dedication to his partner and their children. 

During our personal development phase, Jeff found joy in connecting with people from various walks of life which he normally would not meet if not for the Change Course program. In building these relationships, Jeff has formed lifelong bonds that would not have been possible otherwise. Jeff says that he found value in the assignments and activities during the Personal Development class, which have played a crucial role in beginning to restore the confidence that he had lost during his struggles of the past. He is now currently pursuing an apprenticeship in HVAC and is set to graduate the Change Course program in December! We're all so inspired by you Jeff!
Labor Day means more to us than it ever has before. Every day, we proudly train, empower and prepare incredible people in Iowa that are ready to change their lives by finding the careers that perfectly fit their skillsets. If you or someone you know is stuck in a seemingly hopeless cycle and ready for change, we are here to help. Sign up today for our free six-month career development course. Our next class starts on November 6, and enrollment is currently open. There are very limited spots available, so click the link in our bio to apply now!
Seeking volunteers for childcare on Monday nights! 6:00-8:00p.m. once a week. Dinner is always provided! Please DM us or email nicole@change-course.org if you’re interested. Thank you!
From our CEO, Joseph:

I would like to personally thank @fullcirclercc for inviting Change Course to the @ccar4recovery Multiple Pathways of Recovery Conference. Our partnership with Full Circle has become a valuable resource for our Leaders as they work to free themselves from their struggles of the past. We were so grateful to learn from recovery experts, so that we can better guide our Leaders through the next step of development in their new life, new careers and a hopeful future. We will never stop learning!
Thank you Jen and the Life 107.1 crew for having us in today! We spoke about everything Change Course—struggles, victories, learning from our Leaders, feelings of insecurity in difficult moments, and lots more. It’s a good one! You will be able to hear it in full on Saturday, September 2.
From our CEO, Joseph:

Change Course is grateful for our partnership with @senecatank. I was fortunate to spend a little time with Steve, SJ and their leadership team to catch them up on the amazing people we are so fortunate to develop out of poverty and give them career opportunities. Seneca Tank is a company that has very strong core values, cares deeply about their employees and has a strong, thriving business. Together, we can alleviate poverty in Des Moines and provide what Forbes Magazine called "the hidden workforce" to fill the shortage of good employees. Thank you for a great morning and your ongoing partnership with Change Course. There is HOPE in this city!
This week was mock interview week! Huge thank you to our employer partner volunteers from @fullcountsoftware , @kinzlerconstruction  and @chase  for taking time out of your busy weeks to come educate our Leaders on the interview process. We are so grateful for you!
Dani and Joseph were blessed to spend time with Mary and Dale Andringa to tour the incredible Vermeer Mile in Pella. Mary and Dale were incredible hosts—they are so proud of the Vermeer organization and their incredible people. Vermeer prioritizes an inclusive culture of caring for the people who are employed there. We are honored to have @vermeercorp as one of our business partners and we look forward to seeing some of our Leaders join their organization after graduation.

Thank you Mary and Dale for a wonderful afternoon!


Foster Group - Change Course Founding Sponsor
Emerge Academy logo with bird
Foster Group - Change Course Founding Sponsor
Shindler Anderson Goplerud and Weese PC Logo
Foster Group - Change Course Founding Sponsor