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The Urbandale Community School District is dedicated to helping students achieve performance excellence both within and beyond the classroom; which is why the Urbandale Activities Team is developing an innovative, purposeful, and comprehensive leadership program, called J-Hawk Foundations, for students involved in athletics and their coaches. J-Hawk Foundations is focused on integrating key leadership principles, essential life skills, and personal enrichment values in order to maximize success for all participants.

In 2009, the Urbandale Activities Team began researching and assessing leadership development programs that could be implemented within the athletic program. However, most programs were simply preventative programs for drug and alcohol abuse and did not fully encapsulate the core values and tenets required to support a successful leadership program for students and coaches.

This lack of an existing program became the catalyst for the Urbandale Activities Team to begin development of Urbandale’s own, original leadership program for students and coaches.

The Urbandale Activities Team has partnered with two leading organizations focused on fostering excellence and ethics among youth environments, The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center and the Institute for Excellence and Ethics (IEE), in order to begin creating the J-Hawk Foundations program.

To ensure the leadership program serves the needs of Urbandale students and coaches, the Urbandale Activities Team collected baseline data through an online survey using the Culture of Excellence and Ethics Assessment (CEEA Sport) process developed by the IEE in April, 2013.

“We will take it upon ourselves to extend learning beyond the classroom and into these athletic arenas to intentionally focus on teamwork, relationships, responsibility, integrity, service, communication, problem solving, leader development, creativity, and a commitment to high standards and continuous improvement,” said Dr. William Watson, Director of Activities and Community Education, Urbandale Community School District. “This new leadership program ties in directly with our district values, mission, and vision of bringing learning to life for everyone.”

J-Hawk Foundations will focus on three key areas:

1)      Provide tools to all athletes to help them succeed within their sport. 

2)      Provide a platform to convey life skills to individual students. 

3)      Provide athletes an opportunity to develop personal leadership. 

The Urbandale Activities Team will continue inviting guest speakers to help educate and train students and coaches. Recently, Matt Davidson, President and Director of Education at the IEE, spoke with Urbandale students about several of the eight essential competencies that the program will center on:

  • Developing positive and productive relationships.
  • Demonstrating emotional intelligence, integrity, and responsibility.
  • Exhibiting creativity and innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving.
  • Leading and serving others.
  • Living a balanced, purposeful, and healthy life.
  • Committing to high standards and continuous improvement.
  • Managing priorities and reducing stress.
  • Communicating and collaborating with efficiency and effectiveness.

Drake University has also embarked upon a similar program this past year. Working together with the IEE and the Institute for Character Development, they developed a program that they feel is enhancing the life of their student-athletes and creating positive structures that are helping on and off the field, court, pool, and track.

J-Hawk Foundations will be introduced to Urbandale students involved in athletics and high school coaches in the Fall, 2013.  It has been said that there are no born leaders as leadership must be learned, thus Urbandale schools are leading the way with insightful and thought-provoking programs that will have a positive, lasting, and significant impact on personal leadership within and beyond the classroom and sports arena.


J-Hawk Foundations is developed and delivered in partnership with The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center and the Institute for Excellence & Ethics.

For more information on these organizations, visit: or