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How Iowa West is Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis

April 28, 2020

It’s been one month since the COVID-19 crisis began. While sometimes it seems like the world we once knew was a lifetime ago, on a positive note it’s truly inspiring to see how our community has come together. Still, so much changed for the Iowa West Foundation in just the past 30 days.

First, we established a partnership with the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation to initiate a Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, and made an initial contribution of $500,000. Our team has already deployed more than $300,000 to organizations focused on responding to emergency needs. Our initial focus has been to prioritize food and shelter for vulnerable populations. However, our fund will also support the expansion of public health infrastructure and continuity of nonprofit operations. We have also made the difficult decision to defer our current grant cycle. With the exception of a few, mission-critical operating grants and initiatives, Cycle 2 applicants will be deferred to the next cycle.

While the needs of our nonprofit partners in both urban and rural areas are overwhelming at times, it’s notes like this one received from Pottawattamie County Planning Director Matt Wyant that reinforce the difference being made. He writes:

“Thank you for what you and your team are doing. The work you put in to help out New Visions is so extremely important it is hard to express. That was our most sensitive populations and a real disaster waiting to happen. With Iowa West’s support that took that panic situation and sprayed it with a tanker truck of HOPE. I will not let the people here forget that you took the time to step in when we needed you!”

We are fortunate to be in a position to help others in this time of need. It is not lost on us how lucky we are and that is why I send daily emails to our staff to appreciate the small things in life. For example, short commutes (from the kitchen to the office), spring blooms (well, before the snow came) Facetime dance parties with the grandkids (sorry, no video) and seeing all the families out walking together.

Unfortunately, the virus has certainly impacted some of our plans for the spring, including the cancellation or postponement of the following:

BoardSource Training for Non Profits – This capacity building program is one of the ways we support local nonprofit leadership. We hope to reschedule at a later date.

Iowa West Sports Plex Construction and Grand Opening – Our hope was to hold a ribbon cutting in partnership with the Council Bluffs Soccer Club on May 5th. With the spring soccer season cancelled, and COVID-19 impacting the project’s labor force and therefore construction on the facility, this also will be postponed.

Pottawattamie Promise Breakfast –  This is our annual gathering to recognize more than 100 seniors from six area high schools who have received full scholarships pursue higher education at Iowa Western in the fall. While we will miss the opportunity to meet and honor them in person, six of them were featured as Faces of the Day and all of them were highlighted in the Saturday, April 25th edition of the Daily Nonpareil.

Iowa West Foundation CEO Search – Due to restrictions and limitations placed on gatherings and travel at this time, the decision was made to delay first-round interviews for the next President/CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. The search will be resumed as soon as it is safe and feasible; however, I have agreed to remain in the position the new CEO is in place.

In summary, while so much has changed and been affected by COVID-19, I fully believe we will get through this stronger than we were before. I personally am determine to arrive on the other side proud of how we stewarded the Iowa West Foundation response to help the community.

Mainwaring, Brenda

Written by Brenda Mainwaring, President & CEO

OUR VISION is a community where families choose to live, and businesses choose to locate, because of its quality of life and standard of living.

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