The response that I have received from the first guest editorial I wrote Partnership with City of Council Bluffs is the Linchpin of Transformation and published in The Nonpareil on Oct. 23, has been gratifying and enlightening.
The most common response I have heard has been “I had no idea.” Most people had no idea that $237 million has been invested by Iowa West in partnership with the City of Council Bluffs for projects and amenities that benefit all of us who live here.
The second thing I heard was “thank you.” Many have communicated how important it is that there be a voice to counteract the small group of negative individuals who characterize Iowa West Foundation as an offensive organization that is doing something to the community rather than partnering with the community.
That response has prompted me to provide additional information about our investments in a series of guest editorials. Today’s is about our investments in education.
Since our inception, the Iowa West Foundation has invested $101 million to improve and enhance the educational opportunities for our children and youth as well as adult learners.
The vision of the Iowa West is to create “a community where families want to live and businesses want to locate because of the quality of life and standard of living.” I think something most of us can agree on is that one of the key components of a city where families want to live is the quality of the educational opportunities for their children.
Our investments in education span the lifespan of the foundation. Since 2001 the Iowa West Foundation has invested $21 million through Green Hills Area Education Agency for preschool throughout all of Pottawattamie County. These funds have allowed school districts to draw down additional monies from the state of Iowa and significantly expand the numbers of 3 and 4 year olds who have access to preschool. It makes a difference.
And $14 million has been granted to improve the quality of K-12 education. These investments include SAMS, International Baccalaureate for elementary and middle schools, and the CB Summer School programs, as well as a pilot to try to impact the issue school superintendents identify as being one of their most challenging — mental health concerns.
Another $12 million has been focused on scholarships to help young people across Pottawattamie County have access to a post-secondary certificate or degree. Most of these scholarships have gone to young people who might not have thought about pursuing of any kind of post-secondary credential. The ultimate goal is to encourage young people to pursue a degree or credential that will pay a livable wage.
Millions of dollars have supported enrichment activities for children across the county. Young people, regardless of their ability to pay, get access to the Children’s Museum, the ballet, the symphony, the Joslyn Museum, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and many others. These activities matter.
Quality educational opportunities change lives. At Iowa West, we are proud to be partnering with school districts throughout the county, as well as Iowa Western, to ensure that quality educational opportunities are available to young people. We are proud of the difference we are making, and we want you to know.