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Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa announces new community initiatives aimed at strengthening Black Hawk County

August 30, 2018

The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa has announced the launch of four new community initiatives to help address critical needs and enhance the quality of life in Black Hawk County. CFNEIA will focus on four initiative areas: child care, workforce readiness, art and culture, and nonprofit capacity building. The new initiatives do not replace the current core grantmaking areas but are part of the Foundation's strategic plan to move into more strategic grantmaking and expand its role as a community leader.

"Since 1956, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa has partnered with donors, nonprofits, and communities to enrich where we live," said Kaye Englin, CFNEIA President and CEO. "Planting a flag in the ground for these areas of need is our responsibility as a lead community organization and presents an opportunity for the Foundation and our partners to make even deeper impacts on the lives of individuals and families living in Black Hawk County."

The four initiative areas were selected through an 18-month process that included research of existing community data on areas of need, an organizational strengths assessment, exploration of engagement with other lead community partners, and the potential for inspiring philanthropy around the issues. 

The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa will focus on four core strategies in each initiative area to lead in developing community-based solutions: strategic grantmaking, community convening and collaboration, philanthropic engagement, and advocacy. The Foundation has also established the Strategic Initiatives Fund to provide a funding source for its community initiatives. 

Work on two of the community initiatives has already begun through CFNEIA staff leadership roles in community coalitions. 

Englin is a lead member of the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition, assisting with the establishment of the coalition in November 2017. CFNEIA also hosted community meetings for providers and community members in May 2018. The coalition partners are a mix of leaders from nonprofit organizations, child care providers, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and businesses. The coalition is meeting monthly and is actively seeking solutions through core work groups focused on addressing specific areas of need.

"The community conversation around the lack of quality, accessible child care in Black Hawk County has gained incredible momentum over the past year," said Englin. "With approximately 13,000 children whose child care needs are not being met, it is essential to find solutions for families and employers, and CFNEIA brings resources and community knowledge to the table."

Tom Wickersham, CFNEIA Program Director, is engaged as a member of the Cedar Valley Arts, a community coalition currently working to elevate the arts in the Cedar Valley. CFNEIA is also a host of the group's September 13 event, Cedar Valley Arts Summit 2.0. This event is designed to provide an opportunity for community members to be involved in shaping arts in the Cedar Valley and through learning from other cities’ efforts in building an arts-focused environment.

Both coalitions are examples of community conversations turned into action through community leadership and partnerships.

"We understand we cannot take on these issues alone," said Jeff Hassman, CFNEIA Board Chair. "It will take many partners to create deep, meaningful impacts. Incredible community support has already rallied partners to these causes and we want to help lead the way. The actions taking place to make a difference in Black Hawk County in these areas are a testament to our community's caring and collaborative spirit."

CFNEIA's community initiatives are in different stages of development, with an expanded role in nonprofit capacity building and workforce readiness initiatives still in initial planning phases. More information including action steps, goals, and how to be involved will be available as the initiatives progress. 

"We are committed to the growth and success of Black Hawk County. Addressing these four key areas will create a more vibrant community for everyone," said Englin. "We are excited to use our partnerships, platform, and resources to be a catalyst for change and use what we learn to expand this initiatives model to assist our affiliate partners in identifying needs and lead the way for stronger rural Iowa communities."

If you are interested in becoming involved in any of these community initiatives, please contact CFNEIA at 319-287-9106.

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