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Iowa West Foundation awards more than $9 million in grants and initiatives

March 7, 2021

More than a dozen southwest Iowa communities receive funding for education & wellness

(Council Bluffs, IA) The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently awarded $9.4 million in grants and initiatives to several area nonprofits. Missions fueled by this cycle of funding include alleviating poverty, providing essential equipment for volunteer firefighters, supporting infrastructure and amenities in rural areas, and ensuring high-quality educational opportunities from cradle to career, among others. Among the communities impacted are Council Bluffs, Avoca-Hancock-Shelby-Tenant-Walnut, Carson, Crescent, Glidden, Neola, Oakland, Omaha, Treynor, Tri-Center, Underwood, and Woodbine.

“Glidden is no different from the larger communities in that if you can’t find high-quality childcare, it’s going to stifle your workforce opportunities,” said Angela Lensch, Board President of the Lil’ Wildcat Education Center, Inc., which received a $50,000 grant toward its $1.2 million childcare facility. “This grant will definitely help to fulfill this ever-growing need in our community.”

On the initiative side, IWF funded nearly $1 million for Pottawattamie Promise, which includes full tuition to Iowa Western for those who qualify from six area high schools. This is the 7th year for the program in partnership with Peter Kiewit Foundation and the IWCC Foundation.

“Support from Iowa West Foundation has a profound impact on the lives of children in our community from birth through college,” said Dr. Ann Mausbach, Chair of the Education Advisory Committee for the Iowa West Foundation and Associate Professor for Educational Leadership at Creighton University. Investing in parent education, high quality preschools, and college scholarships shows our commitment to making southwest Iowa communities healthy and vibrant.”

Other notable funding included $2.4 million toward the revitalization of the Council Bluffs Riverfront, an installment of the Foundation’s $15 million overall commitment. In addition, $1.4 million was allocated for the replacement of the “Looking Up” sculpture, to be installed later this spring. The Foundation also distributed more than $2 million in critical operating support for numerous local nonprofits with missions that support education, arts and culture, and healthy families. Letters of Intent for Cycle 2 of 2021 will be accepted through March 15.

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.

2021 Cycle 1 Grants and Initiatives

Angels Among Us
Assistance for Iowa families battling childhood cancer        

Carson Volunteer Fire Department
PPE and rescue equipment

Catholic Charities Diocese of Des Moines
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program     

Crescent Volunteer Fire Department
PPE acquisition

Heartland Family Service
HEAT 2021

Historic General Dodge House, Inc.
2021 Critical Repairs

Iowa Environmental Council
Missouri River Flooding Protection

Iowa West Foundation Initiative
Looking Up Art

Iowa Western Community College
Pottawattamie Promise

Lil Wildcat Education Center, Inc.
Quality Childcare

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc.
Baldwin Wildlife Center & Hubbard Family Wildlife Hospital

Omaha Bridges Out of Poverty, Inc.
Southwest Iowa Poverty Alleviation Initiative

Omaha Women’s Fund
Women of Color leadership program

Pottawattamie County
CITIES Program
City of Neola

City of Oakland –$54,328

City of Underwood – $84,275

Promise Partners
Early Childhood Iowa

Southwest Iowa Nonprofit for Collective Impact
Riverfront Revitalization         

The 712 Initiative
530 W. Broadway

The 712 Initiative

Operating Support


United Way of the Midlands
Community Care Fund 2021

Vision Treynor Group
Treynor Family Recreation Complex “The T”

Woodbine Community Foundation
Woodbine Regional Wellness Center


2021 Multi-Year Funding Recipients

Ballet Nebraska

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands

Durham Museum


Green Hills AEA

Heartland Family Services

Iowa Western Community College Foundation – Performing Arts Center

Joslyn Art Museum

Immigrant Legal Center

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.


Lauritzen Gardens

Lauritzen Gardens – Railroad Days

Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Symphony Association

Omaha Theater Company – Rose Theater

Opera Omaha

Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment

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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