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Iowa West Foundation funnels $3 million + into southwest Iowa communities

November 22, 2021

Grants & initiatives bolster education, economic development, placemaking and healthy families

(Council Bluffs, IA) The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved $3.2 million in grants and initiatives, bringing the total funding awarded in 2021 to approximately $16 million. Causes that received financial support ranged from bolstering entrepreneurs and workforce development to providing more accessibility to mental health services and quality housing.

“The Iowa West Foundation’s goal is to help address the needs of communities while also supporting their dreams,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “We see ourselves as a partner with the nonprofits that we support. Only together can we continue to improve lives in our region.”

Mainwaring credits the long-term partnership with Ameristar, Harrah’s, and Horseshoe for the Foundation’s ability to make a meaningful impact in the community. Fees from gaming and investment income are what enables Iowa West to fund scholarships, trails, and countless other grants that support programs and projects throughout 18 counties in southwest Iowa.


In the placemaking category, Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs received a $40,000 for an owner-occupied repair program. The grant will allow for protection and renovation of the existing housing stock in order to improve the health and safety of the occupants, maintain property values, and increase overall neighborhood appeal.

“This support means Habitat will be able to work directly with homeowners, meeting families where they are, to find solutions for home maintenance and repair issues where they might not otherwise be affordable,” said Blake Johnson, Executive Director. “We plan to maximize the award through the collaborative spirit of Habitat, and to bring the utmost impact to our community and those families in need of our support.”


Part of Iowa West Foundation’s vision is a community where businesses want to locate. A $130,000 grant that supports the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce’s continuation of workforce development programming will allow for further growth in that area.

“The workforce challenges that face our community are not unique to us, but thanks to the funds we’ve received from Iowa West Foundation, our available workforce solutions will be,” said Alicia Frieze, Workforce Development Director for the Council Bluffs Chamber.We will continue to offer professional development opportunities to our local leaders and wrap-around services to area residents looking to start a new career, which are just a few of the programs made possible through grant funding.”


The largest grant awarded went to the City of Council Bluffs, which received $1 million to continue expanding the 1st Avenue Trail from 25th St. to 16th St. Heartland Bike Share also received a grant to add a B-cycle station at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 25th St. along the trail.

“The FIRST AVE multi-use trail features a 14-foot-wide trail surface ornamented with pedestrian lighting, landscaping, trees, plazas, and now, a Heartland B-cycle station,” said Brandon Garrett, City of Council Bluffs Chief of Staff. “When complete, this trail will connect downtown Council Bluffs with downtown Omaha and exist as a segment of the Great American Rail Trail that crosses the country from Washington, D.C. to Washington State. This grant will have a tremendous impact.”

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 on recent changes to the application process, a virtual grants workshop will be held on Thursday, Dec. 9.

2021 Cycle 3 Grants and Initiatives

Anawim Housing

Supportive Housing Plan


Avoca Fire Department

Extrication tools


Boys Town Iowa

In-home family service


Career EdVantage



Cass County Fair Association

Replacement of stalls


City of Council Bluffs

F.I.R.S.T. A.V.E.


City of Griswold

Park Revitalization


City of Sidney

Gazebo on the Square


Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce

Workforce Development Program


Council Bluffs Community School District



Council Bluffs Schools Early Learning Center

Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development

Operating Support 2022


Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs

Owner Occupied Repair Program


Heartland Bike Share

Connecting Council Bluffs through Heartland B-cycle


Heartland Family Service

H.E.A.T. 2022


Lewis Central Children’s Mental Health


Historic General Dodge House

Preservation, Porches & Paint


Iowa West Foundation initiative

Capacity Building Fund


Nebraska Enterprise Fund

Expanding Western Iowa Fund for Entrepreneurs


New Visions Homeless Services

Operating Support 2022

The 712 Initiative

Operating Support 2022


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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