(Council Bluffs, IA) The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved nearly $5 million in grant and initiative funding to 21 non-profit organizations and government entities in southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska.
Education was a major theme for the final grant cycle of 2016, with $1.5 million awarded to the Council Bluffs Community School District (CBCSD) for two major initiatives: summer school and Middle School International Baccalaureate (IB) education.
The Iowa West Foundation and CBCSD are partnering to launch Iowa’s first known IB Middle School program outside of Des Moines at both Kirn and Wilson middle schools. When the certification is complete, it also will create a continuum for students who attend the Primary Years Program at College View Elementary School. College View became certified in 2013, and Carter Lake Elementary will soon be certified in 2017. While the $186,000 awards funds for this year, total funding to implement the IB program at both middle schools is $1.4 million over the next four years.
“We recognize that students in College View and Carter Lake Elementary Schools are gaining exceptional insights into themselves and their world as they connect their learning experiences with real-life issues,” said Dr. Martha Bruckner, Superintendent of CBCSD. “Since the first year of IB in our district, parents have been asking when we would push it to middle schools. We have now built capacity to make that expansion – something that would not have been possible without the support from Iowa West Foundation.”
The inquiry-based learning model develops students’ intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Key elements include foreign language, a focus on the arts, and a rigorous curriculum of math, English, and science.
The $1,278,900 awarded to CBCSD for summer school includes both years 2017 and 2018, allowing more than 800 students per year to attend. The Iowa West Foundation has funded CBCSD’s summer school program since 2009. The six-week summer program relies on small teacher to student ratios and reading interventionists, which has resulted in strong gains in reading.
“Research indicates keeping students engaged in academic enrichment through the summer months can result in half a year of academic growth,” said Kathleen Rapp, Vice President of Grants and Initiatives at the Iowa West Foundation. “We are committed to preventing summer learning loss and continuing to build student achievement in reading, which is vital for long-term academic and workforce success.”
In the focus area of “Placemaking,” $100,000 was awarded to the Greater Omaha Chamber Foundation for the startup of a food incubator called The Kitchen Council, which recently held its first “pitch” event for food entrepreneurs.
This Iowa West Foundation initiative will significantly lower the barriers to entry for new food companies while spurring economic development, job creation and entrepreneurial growth in the region. Kitchen Council members will have access to a fully-licensed commercial kitchen in the former Famous Dave’s location at the Mid-America Center. The more than 2,500 square feet of kitchen space can accommodate up to 30 “foodpreneurs” and includes convection ovens, large scale mixers, prep tables and walk-in freezer space.
“The idea is, if you want to grow a food business and don’t have the capital to grow it at home, this is a low-risk, low-cost option for food startups,” said Pete Tulipana, President, and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “It promotes successful culinary entrepreneurship by providing tools, resources, and space for production without the burden and costs associated with operating their own facilities.
Members also will have access to business development assistance, including regular strategic review sessions with mentors as well as marketing, sales, accounting, health and safety support.
Another major recipient of initiative funding was the newly formed arts organization: Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment (PACE), which received $2,325,369. The nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen, develop and promote art, cultural, and historical institutions, organizations, and activities in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County. Fundraising is currently underway to renovate the Harvester II building on S. Main Street in Council Bluffs into a permanent home for the organization and its partners.
“We are excited to begin offering new arts and culture education and programming to the greater community based on the feedback we received from visioning meetings held earlier this year,” said Interim Executive Director Judy Davis. “The funding from the Iowa West Foundation brings us that much closer to being able to realize the dream of an arts and culture center that can accommodate everything from live music to theater to ballet.”
The Letter of Inquiry period for Cycle 1 of 2017 is currently open and will close on Oct. 17. Applications are due Nov. 15. Effective this year, grant application and initiative decisions will now be made in February (Cycle 1), June (Cycle 2) and October (Cycle 3). This is a change from the previous January/May/September decision-making schedule. Please see the Grantmaking section of the website for more information.
About the Iowa West Foundation
The Iowa West Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the Midwest. It has distributed more than $400 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.
2016 Cycle 3 Grants and Initiatives:
(*indicates Iowa West Foundation initiative)
2016-2017 season programming
City of Avoca
Police Department – 2016 communications equipment
Public Library – Main entry renovation for ADA compliance
City of Council Bluffs
Public Library – Council Bluffs newspaper archive (1857-2002)
City of Tabor
Main Street Lights and Brick Paving Improvements
Council Bluffs Community Education Foundation
Classroom Grants 2016-2017
Council Bluffs Community School District
*International Baccalaureate Program for Kirn and Wilson Middle Schools
*Summer School for 2017 and 2018
Council Bluffs Goodfellows
*Raise Me to Read
Girl Scouts of Great Iowa Inc.
Girl Scout STEM program
Greater Omaha Chamber Foundation
*The Kitchen Council – a food incubator entrepreneurship program
Heartland Family Service
Housing and Emergency Assistance Task Force (HEAT)
Iowa Legal Aid
Youth Link Project
Iowa Western Community College Foundation
2016-2017 season programming
Joslyn Art Museum
Interpretive technology for the reinstallations of permanent European galleries
Creative Catalyst – After school arts program in Council Bluffs
New Visions Christian Worship Center
Nishna Valley Family YMCA
Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, Inc.
Impact Iowa – support for Prelude Strings and Honors Orchestra for CBCSD
Omaha Development Foundation
Missouri River Commons
Omaha Symphony Association
2016-2017 Adventures in Music – southwest Iowa
Productions: “La boheme,” Cosi fan tutte” and “Flight”
Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment
*Arts and Culture District
The Blue Barn Theatre
2016-2017 season programming
Director of Communications