The Iowa West Foundation board of directors recently approved $3.9 million in grants and initiative funding for more than 20 nonprofit organizations in the Southwest Iowa region, according to a foundation press release.
The funding will address several of the needs expressed by local citizens at the Foundation’s Imagine Hour listening session series held earlier this year.
“We’ve heard from so many people in Council Bluffs and the surrounding communities that housing is an issue,” said Brenda Mainwaring, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “For some of our residents, that means they can afford a down payment on a home, while for others it’s a housing stock shortage. We want to help people on that spectrum by working with our nonprofit partners so more people can call our region home and love where they live.”
Several of the grants awarded in the final cycle of the year focused on helping area residents increase financial stability, the release said. While the foundation does not make grants to individuals, a $25,000 grant awarded to the nonprofit Lending Link will provide opportunities for Council Bluffs residents to increase their financial security. The organization provides access to low-cost capital with the goal of reducing the need for payday loans.
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“The Iowa West Foundation grant will help us expand our low-cost lending business in Council Bluffs,” said Executive Director Daniel Padilla. “With appropriate resources, we can provide 20 to 30 low-cost loans to individuals and families, and the repayments on those loans are fed back into new loans in the community. We look forward to creating more cheap lending opportunities in the Council Bluffs area as we continue to fight predatory lenders.”
Both Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs also received funds to make down payments on Iowa housing and home repairs, respectively. Studies show that home ownership increases financial stability and a sense of belonging in communities.
With food insecurity escalating significantly and remaining at astonishing levels during the pandemic, Together Inc. was raised $200,000 to continue running the premier West Broadway pantry, which has distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of food since it opened in September has 2021, according to the press release.
“The support of the Iowa West Foundation allows us to continue to serve the community with hope, dignity and compassion and to meet the unprecedented needs we continue to see,” said Mike Hornacek, President and CEO of Together Inc. “The partnership makes possible we are about to make a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Council Bluffs and Southwest Iowa residents affected by food insecurity.”
The rural communities of Elk Horn, Glenwood, Harlan, Macedonia, Minden and Oakland also received program and project funding for this cycle.
Partnerships with local casinos Ameristar, Harrah’s and Horseshoe allow the foundation to provide ongoing impactful grants in the community. Gaming fees contribute to the foundation’s investments to fund working capital and programmatic grants in 14 counties in Southwest Iowa.
The Iowa West Foundation now accepts letters of inquiry (the first step in the grant application process) year-round, with deadlines of January 1, May 1, and September 1 before each of the three grant cycles. For more information, visit iowawestfoundation.org and sign up for our e-newsletter.