(Council Bluffs, IA) The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors approved up to $500,000 in emergency funding to help southwest Iowa nonprofits and public health organizations in crisis due to COVID-19. This funding is in addition to ongoing operating funding already in place for several human services, arts and education related organizations. Foundation staff prioritized creating a simple application with the objective for the funds to be rapidly deployable.
“The Foundation is in a position to step in during this critical time of need and we want to help,” said Pete Tulipana, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “Our nonprofit and community partners are on the front lines combating the fallout from COVID-19, including those organizations who serve the homeless, the hungry, and other vulnerable individuals in our community.”
Foundation leadership emphasized their commitment to support both rural and urban systems and areas. The over-arching goal of the fund is to respond to the evolving needs with respect to the following areas:
Emergency Assistance to Vulnerable Populations
This funding would support those who are food insecure, shelter insecure, or facing acute behavioral health needs. Basic needs would be prioritized and applicants would be asked to identify their strategies for establishing ways to meet new needs or scale existing programs. Examples would include mobile pantries, expanded rental and utility assistance, meals on wheels, rural food deliveries, and support to homeless shelters and homeless needs.
Public Health Expanded Infrastructure
Recognizing that the existing infrastructure for public health was not designed for the current circumstances, this funding would support innovative approaches to responding to COVID-19, such as public information, drive-through testing, or other novel infrastructure. While hospitals are usually ineligible for Iowa West Foundation support, for the purposes of this fund alone, they would have the opportunity to apply given the above restrictions.
Continuity of Nonprofit Operations
This funding would support nonprofit partners who are unable to meet payroll as a result of fundraising loss, event cancellation, or other COVID-19 related impacts. Applicants would be asked to show an expected gap in their ability to support their staff during the near-term of 3-6 months. This would only be available to organizations that have offices in southwest Iowa. Specific priority should be given to existing multi-year funding recipients in this category.
The announcement of the emergency fund comes just one day after Gov. Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency.
“There are going to be very real effects on vulnerable members of our community,” Tulipana said. “We want to do everything we can to mitigate potential negative outcomes so that southwest Iowa continues to be a place where families want to live and businesses want to locate, which is the mission that drives the Iowa West Foundation.”
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.
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