Statement from Will Keeps’ Family

We want to thank everyone for their prayers and outpouring of support for Will and the students involved in this tragedy. Will is currently in serious, but stable condition. He has a long recovery ahead and we are deeply appreciative for the care he is receiving. Even though Will is severely injured, he is now more determined than ever to continue with his work with at-risk youth and looks forward to, once again, working hand-in-hand with other community leaders on the mission of Starts Right Here. We ask for your continued prayers for everyone involved in this tragedy.

We are heartbroken and angry that two of our students were shot and killed Monday afternoon. Will Keeps, founder and president of Starts Right Here, a nonprofit educational program, was also shot and is recovering from surgery. Our prayers are with Will, and the families and friends of all those involved in this tragedy. 

This is a tremendously painful time for our entire Starts Right Here community as our sole focus is to help at-risk youth reach their full potential. These actions are contrary to all that we stand for and point out more must be done. These two students had hope and a future that will never be realized. We can no longer say this type of violence doesn’t happen in Des Moines. Sadly, it does. However, it will not stop us from the work that we are called to do, and that work starts right here. 

We thank the Des Moines Police Department and first responders for their swift action. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation. And, we ask for community support as we grieve for those who died and for all those forever impacted by this violence. 

Classes are cancelled for the remainder of the week. However, grief counselors will be at the Kurtz Building today (1000 Porter Avenue) to meet with students.

Starts Right Here was founded by local rapper William Holmes (also known as “Will Keeps”), who saw a need in the community to create a place where at-risk youth in Des Moines could be served in a supportive and empowering environment that helps them reach their full potential. This is accomplished through programming that encompasses education, music, sports and other activities – all designed to help empower participants, while also provide purpose and hope for a better future. Will’s passion for helping youth through Starts Right Here has attracted the attention of many other business and community leaders, all of whom share the same vision as Will for youth in the community. 

The movement derives from the notion that wherever the adversity presents itself in the urban core, thereby can also be the epicenter of that positive paradigm change that brings about an overcoming narrative for lost kids and families.

Every Soul Matters - START RIGHT HERE to Change A Life

Starts Right Here (SRH) is a program designed to serve youth in a supportive, empowering environment. All young people deserve a chance to rise above the circumstances they were born into and to reach their mental, emotional, physical, and economic potential.

At SRH, we work with urban youth who have been touched by real-life challenges. We give them a chance to choose a different future – empowering them to change their mindset to one of hope, purpose, and determination, and providing access to resources that support their goals.

Our Mission: Educate, Equip, and Empower

Starts Right Here educates, equips, and empowers young people living in disadvantaged and oppressive circumstances using the arts, entertainment, hip hop, music, programs, and a variety of other methods to break down the barriers of fear, intimidation, and other damaging factors leading to a sense of being disenfranchised, forgotten and rejected.

Our Vision:

A community collaboration to enable and empower young people to interact constructively in schools, police officers, and other government and civic leaders to create partnerships with the business community and build significant relationships to encourage positive life choices. Young people would have a roadmap to a secure future and a path to sustained and increasing quality of life, and it starts right here!