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COVID-19 Response Funds Create Regional Impact

September 28, 2020

Preparing for the unknown is a difficult task. In early March, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and our team began conversations about what the coronavirus could mean for communities across our 20-county region and swiftly developed actions to ensure a response that reflected our values and strengths.

Black Hawk County Collaboration Amplifies Response

It quickly became apparent that to be successful, the collaboration of community partners was essential.

“We immediately began working with other funders, local leaders, nonprofits, and local government,” said Kaye Englin, CFNEIA president and CEO. “We shared information to assess immediate needs and potential long-term impacts.”

The conversations led to an unprecedented partnership of six local funders to establish the Black Hawk County COVID-19 Cooperative Disaster Response Fund held at CFNEIA. Lead funders include CFNEIA, Cedar Valley United Way, Otto Schoitz Foundation, and Max and Helen Guernsey Charitable Foundation, each contributed $50,000, with an additional $20,000 granted from the Leighty Fund, a fund of CFNEIA. The Cedar Falls Community Foundation and Waterloo Community Foundation each contributed $10,000.

Through this partnership, and the generosity of other partners, over $315,000 in grants to Black Hawk County nonprofits have been awarded.

Funds Established Across Our Region

CFNEIA understood the response to the pandemic needed to expand to our region, but we couldn’t do it alone. Our staff organized listening and planning calls with our affiliate foundation volunteers to learn more about their communities’ needs and share how, as an affiliate, they could establish funds for their counties.

Ten affiliate foundations established COVID-19 disaster response funds and worked to raise funds to grant to nonprofits serving those most affected.

“People were unemployed, had a loss of income, and needed help because they were experiencing COVID related impacts. Our committee felt the impetus to help because we were seeing the stress on families and people in our communities,” said Ronda Hughes, Howard County Community Foundation chair.

Through our affiliate foundation volunteers’ work, nearly $165,000 has been granted across our affiliate region.

Read the full Summer Good News Report.