In the past few years, in addition to awarding grants, the Foundation began to invest in “initiatives” in the areas of education, economic development, placemaking and healthy families, essentially the building blocks of a stronger, more resilient community.
Initiatives have included Riverfront development, the Pottawattamie Promise scholarship program, neighborhood revitalization in Council Bluffs, children’s mental health, an inter-connected trail system throughout Pottawattamie County and improvements to West Broadway.
The vision, insight, planning and collaboration that initiatives require allows for everyone to look at the big picture with the hope of finding a longer, collaborative solution to create an agreed-upon impact. Where there aren’t existing service delivery models in place, initiatives seek to partner with key organizations to transform the delivery of services, often by creating a new model. Instead of a wait and see approach, initiatives are proactive and involve ongoing conversations with community leaders as well as data-driven research to lead change.
With initiatives we ask, what is currently available? What has worked in other similar-sized cities? Who needs to be at the table for this discussion? What is the most efficient, effective way to do this? The Foundation’s community-based 2013 strategic plan called for us to be more strategic and serve as a community convener and a leader. Initiatives allow us to fulfill that role.
The Foundation seeks to promote place-making by supporting efforts that make the region a desirable place for families to live and to work. To that end, the Foundation supports the following:
A critical Foundation goal is to increase the standard of living and economic competitiveness of southwest Iowa and the Council Bluffs-Omaha metropolitan area. Key strategies to achieve this goal include:
The Foundation’s overall goals in education are broad-based and intended to: 1) increase kindergarten readiness and decrease educational inequity due to socioeconomic factors; 2) increase high school completion rates; 3) decrease high school dropout rates; and, 4) increase post-secondary opportunities. To achieve these goals, the Foundation supports:
The Foundation places a priority on programs that strengthen families, foster essential life skills and address critical human/social service needs in our community while helping individuals reach their full potential. Examples of such programs include proposals that address the following: family stability, hunger, emergency/transitional housing, teenage pregnancy prevention, child abuse and mental health.