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What We Fund

Eligible Organizations

Iowa West Foundation funds two types of organizations:

501(c)(3) Public Charities
Government entities

We do not fund individuals, private businesses, or 501(c)(3) private foundations.

Grant Program Eligibility 

Schools & School District Eligibility: Individual schools are not eligible to apply for grant support, however we do partner with districts on transformational investments through our initiative process. Transformational projects typically help a district to launch a new program/facility that will achieve a significant advance in specific learning outcomes.  

Good Standing: Eligibility for new grant consideration or renewal of funding relies on a past recipient being in good standing with the Iowa West Foundation. Good standing means that all current grants are in compliance (meeting all award conditions) and that reporting is complete and current. If the Foundation has provided notice of specific concerns, a partner is not considered to be in good standing unless those concerns have been satisfactorily addressed.  

Geographic Focus

As a place-based foundation, we are organized to serve the interests of residents of southwest Iowa. We do so by providing grant funding to a limited geographic area.

Iowa funding: Our Iowa footprint includes 14 counties. Our primary funding area is in Pottawattamie County. We also serve communities located in Adams, Audubon, Carroll, Cass, Crawford, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page, Shelby, and Taylor counties. 

Metro Omaha funding: We also fund organizations in the Greater Omaha Metropolitan Area that benefit Iowa residents. This can be through the provision of direct services into Iowa or through the operation of regional amenities. We define regional amenities as facilities that can demonstrate an audience that includes Iowa residents, and which do not have equivalents in our Iowa giving area. 

Grant Types

Applicants may apply for four distinct types of grants. We consider all resources available to you in determining how much funding to provide – we want to help you bridge the gap between your resources and your goals.  

Program Grants are a form of restricted support. They help a grantee implement a defined project or activity and are tied to specific, project-based outcomes. When considering a program grant application, Iowa West Foundation considers the likelihood that proposed activities will contribute to our four target outcomes. As our outcomes look to long-term community improvement, we tend not to fund projects/programs that are only focused on short-term impacts. 

-If your organization is requesting more than one year of funding, you should provide a clear case as to how the longer commitment supports a stronger impact than a single year commitment would. 
-Renewal of program grants requires your organization be in good standing. 
-As a general practice, grantees who receive more than one renewal should be able to begin to shift from annual reporting to evaluating their data from a longitudinal perspective

Operating Grants are a form of unrestricted support. They fund a grantee’s overall activities, including administrative functions. Iowa West Foundation supports grantee operations when the overall work of the grantee during the period of support will demonstrate results in our target outcomes.  

-This suggests a strong alignment between the work of the applicant and the goals of the foundation. Typically, it is demonstrated through a combination of a clearly aligned workplan and a track-record of clear results.
-As a general practice, it is uncommon for Iowa West Foundation to award an operating grant to an organization without first developing a strong relationship through program grants.
-Operating grants are only available to organizations that own or lease a commercial office space in Pottawattamie County. 
-As a general practice, we typically fund public/governmental entities through program or capital grants rather than general operating grants.

Capital Grants are restricted grants that support the infrastructure needs of an organization. Typically, this is through the acquisition, construction, or installation of facilities or equipment.  

– Applicants for capital grants should make the case as to why this project will help it fulfill its mission more effectively and align with the Foundation’s target outcomes.
– Competition is important to ensuring strong value in capital projects. Applicants should seek three or more quotes from vendors or contractors.
For building improvements or construction, please note that it is a requirement that the applicant own the building or land being improved.
– As a general practice, Iowa West Foundation does not support deferred or general maintenance. As such, when supporting a capital grant, we try to understand how our applicants have planned for the continued maintenance, operation, and eventual replacement for what will be purchased through the grant.

Launch Grants are a type of grant that responds to a frequently heard need from our partner organizations. They are designed to support the creation of needed programs or organizations that are not provided by the existing system. Typically, these include organizations / programs that are in their formative phase. Because they are new, they often entail a higher amount of risk. Iowa West Foundation is only interested in supporting launch grants that are additive rather than duplicating existing services.  

-Recognizing that it is unlikely that newer endeavors will show outcomes during the grant period, applicants will be asked to identify important milestones or deliverables that show strong management or progress toward their goal(s).
-Many of the requests we receive in this category are for a multi-year commitment to give time to establish the new organization / program. In these cases, renewal will be based on the organization being in good standing and showing the anticipated progress.
-As a general practice, a strong plan and/or understanding of need should precede a grant request. If no plan is in place, Iowa West Foundation may offer support to create a plan before considering the full request. 

Contingency Funding 

In addition to the four grants described above, the Iowa West Foundation maintains a Contingency Fund to support existing grantees and partners. We know our partners are tackling some of our communities’ most significant challenges. As a result, the risk of disruption due to circumstances out of our partners’ control is always possible. We want to be active in anticipating and resolving these issues. To do so, we have special funding that is set aside for managing risk. There is no application for the contingency fund. Instead, Iowa West Foundation deploys these funds proactively when we identify an opportunity to help overcome a barrier to our partners’ success. Typically, this is through: 

Capacity building – When possible, we seek to resolve areas of risk before they become problems. One way to do this is to ensure our partners have the skills and advice they need to be successful. Typically, capacity building opportunities arise from our due diligence and reporting conversations. 

Grant contingency supportWhen an unexpected obstacle arises, we can add additional funds to existing grants to help our partners overcome the challenge. These opportunities are most frequently identified through interim reports or when our partners proactively reach out to share their needs.

Emergency funding – In the lifecycle of a nonprofit there can be moments of vulnerability. During these times, Iowa West Foundation may choose to infuse an organization with emergency operational funding to help weather a period of difficulty. 

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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