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Iowa West Foundation awards $3.5 million in funding to benefit southwest Iowans 

July 28, 2022

Programs and projects support quality of life, infrastructure, and housing  in Council Bluffs and surrounding communities

(Council Bluffs, IA) The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved approximately $3.5 million in grant and initiative funding for more than 20 nonprofits in the southwest Iowa region. The funding will improve and enhance the lives of residents in Pottawattamie and surrounding county, particularly those of children by way of early childhood services, trauma-informed care training, Wi-Fi access, parenting programs, and music education, among others.  

“Our goal is to help communities achieve their dreams. By supporting both critical services like access to early childhood development while also funding projects that increase quality of life such as park space and free, family-friendly events, it allows for the next generation to thrive within their community,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation.  

The Iowa West Foundation also continues to address the lack of housing in the area. This follows a series of “Imagine Hour” listening sessions in which participants indicated it was a priority issue for the community. Anawim Housing as well as and Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless will receive support to increase the amount of safe housing for Council Bluffs residents. Studies show home ownership increases financial stability as well as a sense of belonging in communities.  

“Anawim Housing is looking forward to the opportunity to support existing providers in the community through an enhanced service delivery model that builds upon the vital work already taking place,” said Russ Frazier, President. “Through the generous gift from the Iowa West Foundation we expect to provide housing solutions and case management support for many of Council Bluffs’ most vulnerable citizens.  Utilizing a housing first approach with a foundation in evidence-based practices we believe this new collaboration will have a significant impact on the unsheltered population in the community.”  

Mainwaring noted that the partnerships with local casinos Ameristar, Harrah’s, and Horseshoe make it possible for the Foundation to continue meaningful grantmaking and initiative work in the community. Fees from gaming in addition to the Foundation’s investments enable the organization to award operating, capital, and programmatic grants throughout 14 counties in southwest Iowa. 

For this cycle, the rural communities of Carson, Carter Lake, Dunlap, Little Sioux, Treynor, Underwood, and Walnut received funding for placemaking projects or essential fire safety gear. This includes a $500,000 grant to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to preserve the Little Sioux Scout Ranch as Loess Hills State Forest. 

“Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation greatly appreciates the early support and vision from Iowa West Foundation to help protect Iowa’s Loess Hills and make this project happen,” said Joe McGovern, President. “It is a big project, but the result will be an expansive complex of nearly 6,000 wilderness acres protected for public enjoyment and natural resource conservation that also maintains the memorial to the four young scouts who lost their lives there in the 2008 tornado. The project will create a lasting impact on the Loess Hills and surrounding communities.”  

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 prior to each of the three grants cycles. For more information, visit and sign up for our e-newsletter. 

About the Iowa West Foundation 

The Iowa West Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the Midwest. It has distributed more than $500 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies through southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska since the inception of its grant program. Funding for the grants comes from investment earnings and the Iowa West Racing Association, which receives contractual fees from casino operators, Ameristar and Harrah’s. IWRA is the license sponsor for Ameristar and Harrah’s and the license holder for Horseshoe-Bluffs Run. The Foundation targets resources into programs and projects that focus on economic development, education, placemaking, and healthy families.

2022 Cycle 2 Grants and Initiatives

Anawim Housing
Supportive housing gap

Angels Among Us
Assistance for Iowa families of children with cancer

Carson Volunteer Fire Department

Children’s Square U.S.A.
Trauma Informed Care expansion initiative

City of Carter Lake
Mabrey Park enhancements

Council Bluffs Community School District
BLink Phase IX

Council Bluffs Schools Foundation
STARS Scholarships

Expanding Early Head Start

Food Bank of Iowa
Feeding Adams, Audubon, Carroll and Taylor Counties

Four County Fair Association
Parking lot improvements

Historic General Dodge House
2022-2025 Operations

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Little Sioux Scout Ranch addition to Loess Hills State Forest

Iowa West Foundation Initiative

Iowa West Foundation Initiative
Support to leverage state and federal infrastructure funding

Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless
Pottawattamie County housing problem solving

Nebraska Diaper Bank
Pottawattamie County distribution

Omaha Conservatory of Music
Council Bluffs String Sprouts

Thriving Families Alliance
Coordinated intake

Treynor Volunteer Fire Department
Gear replacement

Underwood Fire and Rescue
Gear & radio replacement

Union Pacific Museum Association
Railroad Days at Mile Zero

Walnut Volunteer Fire Department
Equipment & gear

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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