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Iowa West Foundation awards $3.5 million in grants & initiatives

March 29, 2023

Funding targets programs geared toward youth; education

(Council Bluffs, IA) – The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved $3.5 million in grants and initiatives for more than 30 nonprofits and government entities in the southwest Iowa region. Youth in Pottawattamie County are the primary beneficiaries of the funding, with a series of investments to support post-secondary attainment at area high schools, a substantial commitment to 4-year-old preschool throughout the county, and an abundance of enrichment activities outside the classroom.

“We are committed to investing in the youth of our communities, from preschoolers to preteens and beyond,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President, and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “We want our kids to receive a high-quality education that prepares them for their futures in school and work. We also want them to have places to belong and to build their leaderships skills so they will become engaged in and committed to their hometowns as places where they love to live.”

Several grants awarded in the first cycle of 2023 addressed topics consistently raised during the Foundation’s Imagine Hour listening sessions in 2022, such as childcare facilities, youth activities, and free workforce training.

“Meaningful and engaging experiences for tweens and teens are critical for preventing risky behaviors in the after-school hours,” said Amanda Sindelar, Executive Director of the Charles E. Lakin YMCA. “The Iowa West Foundation’s investment will help us increase our staff supervision, enhance program and activity offerings, and create spaces that young people want to use, all while fostering a sense of belonging through membership opportunities.”

The Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy also received a grant to support youth enrichment and leadership, which Director Deb Masker will apply to this summer’s program.

“This grant will allow us to continue to provide a high-quality camp experience for the students in seven middle schools in western Pottawattamie County,” Masker said. “This camp works with students to build skills in teamwork, leadership styles, communication, problem solving, service learning, and goal setting. The students then return to their schools and communities ready to take on leadership roles.”

Partnerships with local casinos Ameristar, Harrah’s, and Horseshoe make it possible for the Foundation to continuously award impactful grants in the community. Fees from gaming and income from Foundation investments provide funding for operating, capital, and programmatic grants throughout 14 counties in southwest Iowa.

The Iowa West Foundation now accepts Letters of Inquiry (the first step in the grant application process) year-round with deadlines of Jan. 1, May. 1 and Sept. 1 to be considered for the following grant cycle.


2023 Cycle 1 Grants and Initiatives

Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands
General operating funding

Centro Latino
General operating funding

City of Elk Horn
Pool facility upgrade

Carter Lake Fire Department

Chevre B’Nai Israel
Living History Museum

City of Council Bluffs
First Avenue Activation Initiative

City of Crescent
City Park playground

City of Neola
Neola Creek upgrades & reflection garden

Completely Kids
Programming for children & parents in shelters

Green Hills Area Education Agency
4-year-old preschool program in Pottawattamie County

Iowa Legal Aid
Help Desk at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse

Iowa West Foundation Initiative – ASPIRE
Support to local high schools for postsecondary attainment

Lauritzen Gardens
Field trips for Southwest Iowa students

Lutheran Family Services
General operating funding

Macedonia Historical Preservation Society
Painted Camel Gallery conversion to artists’ cooperative

Micah House
General operating funding

Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation
Financial education workshops

NAMI Southwest Iowa
General operating funding for 2024

Nebraska Writers Collective
After-school workshops at Council Bluffs high schools

Omaha Bridges Out of Poverty
Southwest Iowa Poverty Alleviation Initiative

Omaha By Design
Support for tour sites in Council Bluffs

Omaha Children’s Museum
Field trips for southwest Iowa students/Low-cost memberships for SWI families

Performing Arts & Education Association of SWIA
LED lighting throughout the interior and exterior of the Performing Arts Center

Pottawattamie Arts, Culture, & Entertainment
General operating funding

Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy
2023 Summer Program

Stanton Child Resource Center
Expanded Child Care Facility

The Danish Immigrant Museum
2023 Summer Day camps for youth

Treynor Community School District
Preschool playground

Treynor Volunteer Fire Department

United Way of the Midlands
Community Care Fund

YMCA of Greater Omaha
After School Support for Preteens & Young Teens at the Lakin YMCA

Media Inquiries:

Nicole Lindquist
Director of Communications
w: 712-309-3004
c: 402-981-2289

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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