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Iowa West Foundation Awards $3 Million In Grants

July 25, 2023

Funding supports students in and out of the classroom;
remains a focus of IWF’s work

(Council Bluffs, IA) – When southwest Iowa students head back to school next month, they will have unique opportunities in the classroom and beyond thanks to Iowa West Foundation grants. A long-time supporter of arts & culture in southwest Iowa, the Foundation continues to financially assist organizations that provide outreach to southwest Iowa students for enrichment opportunities. This includes local museums, performing arts spaces, music venues, and play-based, interactive STEM facilities. 

“We want to support access to the amazing amenities Council Bluffs and the metro have to offer,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President, and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “By focusing on school outreach, we can help ensure our support is available to all families in our communities so everyone is able to take full advantage of what is in our own backyard. These attractions are one reason southwest Iowa is a place where people love to live,” she said.  

This includes the Arts Center at Iowa Western, which has featured a youth series for the past 16 years, said Director Tim Dickmeyer. 

“Each year we bring over 4,000 students from Council Bluffs and surrounding districts to see either the Omaha Symphony or a nationally touring performing artist, free of charge,” he said. “These professional arts experiences uniquely help to develop well-rounded students and we could not provide these opportunities without the support of the Iowa West Foundation.” 

In addition, the Foundation awarded two ASPIRE grants, a county-wide Iowa West initiative that provides funding for workforce development, including $350,000 to the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation to support parents returning to school. Woodbine’s IGNITE Pathways Regional CTE Center also received a $500,000 grant to support a workforce development initiative in Harrison County. 

“As we strive to connect students to career opportunities while finding employment solutions for our region, the financial support provided by the Iowa West Foundation comes at a critical time,” said Michelle Barry, Director of IGNITE Pathways, referencing the organization’s continued efforts to complete the capital project as well as develop innovative programming and community engagement. “This funding is another example of how the southwest Iowa region is committed to developing our future leaders. 

In response to community input, Iowa West is intensifying its focus on addressing the regional housing shortage. The Foundation awarded more than half a million dollars to increase housing stock with the construction of affordable homes, help homeowners repair existing properties, and provide rental assistance and resources to those in need in Pottawattamie County. This follows two IWF-hosted housing symposiums that brought together multiple organizations to collaborate on innovative solutions. The Metropolitan Housing Collaborative received a grant of $50,000 to streamline the application process for renters and property owners and managers. 

“Iowa West has shown their commitment to innovation in the housing ecosystem,” said Felicia Bonner, Program Manager of the Metro Housing Collaborative (MHC). “We are overjoyed that the Foundation has given MHC the means to address the barriers to housing in a new and innovative way. Together we are going to change the game!” 

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. The deadline to be considered for the third and final funding cycle of 2023 is Sept. 1. For more information, visit and sign up to receive the newsletter via email. 

2023 Cycle 2 Grants and Initiatives 

American Midwest Ballet 
General Operating Support

Caring for Our Community Coalition 
Community Coach 

Children’s Square 
Children’s Emergency Shelter Operations 

City of Council Bluffs 
River’s Edge Extension 

City of Villisca
Building Demolition for Farmer’s Market & Performance Square 

Council Bluffs Public Library 
Library Kiosk Shelter 

Council Bluffs Schools Foundation
ASPIRE Investments: STARS Program 

East Mills Child Care Solutions 
Capital Support 

General Operating Support 

Food Bank of Iowa 
Pantries in Rural Counties (Adams, Audubon, Carroll & Taylor)

Golden Hills RC&D
Capacity and Operating Support 

Heartland Family Service
Rental and Utility Assistance (HEAT program)

Ignite Pathways 
Phase II Building Expansion 

Immigrant Legal Center 
General Operating Support 

Iowa Western Community College 
Arts Center 2023-2024 Programming 

Kiewit Luminarium 
Luminator Program Internships 

Lewis Central Community Schools 
Titan Plastics 

Macedonia Fire & Rescue

Metro Housing Collaborative 
Streamlined Renter Access

Nebraska Diaper Bank 
Diapers for children in Pottawattamie County

NeighborWorks Home Solutions 
Construction of Affordable Homes 

Omaha Symphony 
Iowa Community Engagement 

Opera Omaha 
Iowa Community Engagement  

Shenandoah Medical Center 
Community Garden 

Southwest Iowa Housing Trust Fund
Housing Repair 

The Durham Museum 
Educational Programming for Southwest Iowa Students 

The Rose Theater 
Educational Programming for Southwest Iowa Students 

Together, Inc. 
Permanent Food Pantry in Council Bluffs 

Treynor Community School District 
ASPIRE Investments 

Union Pacific Museum Association 
Railroad Days  

Nicole Lindquist

Written by Nicole Lindquist, Director of Communications

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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