Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa Supports Four Programs in Latest Grant Cycle
January 29, 2021 | Pottawattamie County Community Foundation

(Southwest Iowa) Pottawattamie County Community Foundation has announced that the second round of grant funding from the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa have been awarded to four organizations totaling $29,000. Grants to All Care Health Center, Building Blocks Academy (Woodbine), CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs, and West Pottawattamie Extension and Outreach will support programming and projects that are focused on improving the quality of life and well-being of women and children in southwest Iowa.

“The Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa truly demonstrates the generous spirit of philanthropy in our community. The donors and supporters of this initiative are creating tremendous impact for women and families in southwest Iowa,” said Donna Dostal, president and CEO of Pottawattamie County Community Foundation. “With the guidance and leadership of our Women’s Fund steering committee, we are pleased to partner with nonprofits in our region that are committed to leveraging this significant investment towards solutions with lasting impact. We are so honored to be able to fund these deserving organizations as they launch or expand their programming to create change in our communities.”

All Care Health Center received a grant award for $9,000 for the creation of a Women’s Health Passport -- an annual care plan -- as an investment in the health and education of female patients and low-income women throughout southwest Iowa. Studies show that women experiencing poverty are focused on survival, not preventative care, and their risk of health problems develop or worsen over time. All Care providers will create a Health Passport to include an annual well-visit, a list of screening opportunities, and other recommended measures based on a patient’s age, sex, current health status, pre-existing conditions, and family health history. The new program will be offered to guests of MICAH House, and other emergency housing services for women, including Catholic Charities, during its first implementation year.

“Pottawattamie County ranks in the lowest 10% of counties for overall health outcomes and health factors when combined, in our state. All Care wants to change that,” states Bill Wypyski, Executive Director of All Care Health Center. “Our All Care team is continually strategizing and developing methods to improve the community’s health, as a whole. In particular, women's health focuses change throughout a women's life. We are grateful for funding from the Women's Fund of Southwest Iowa that will help our providers to open conversations that outline and encourage an annual road map of individualized services for our female patients that lead to improvement of overall health outcomes. While we encourage our female patients to take better care of themselves, they will help to teach the next generation.”

“As primary care providers we continuously engage patients in conversations about the need for preventative services to help reduce the burden of disease later on,” said Teresa Dowling, All Care Co-Medical Director. “Getting these preventative services is not always on the top of a woman’s to-do list. Having this funding will provide us an opportunity to continue these conversations and hopefully engage them in a way that is meaningful and encouraging to make preventative services a priority.”

Building Blocks Childcare Academy (BBA) in Woodbine received a $5,000 grant to assist with staff training toward certification as Montessori educators. The funding will provide an opportunity for families in Harrison County to experience the benefits of the Montessori philosophy, without commuting to bigger cities for these resources. Montessori based care encourages emotional well-being which increases the overall health of a child. Children who engage in child-focused learning can take initiative in tasks regarding critical thinking and focus, thus encouraging a growth mindset and ability to learn in a school setting. BBA will provide quality care to infants from 6 weeks to 3 years old, until the child is eligible for the Woodbine Community School Preschool program. Additionally, BBA will empower women in lead teacher roles to have pride in their position and certification, thus encouraging the place-making entity of their career at Building Blocks.

“Building Blocks Academy is honored to have been chosen as one of the recipients for the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa grant,” said Cassie Reisz, director of Building Blocks Academy. “This grant will assist teachers of Building Blocks Academy in completing a Montessori Diploma program to become certified Montessori teachers. For Woodbine and surrounding areas, this grant opens an opportunity for families to experience the benefits of the Montessori philosophy, without commuting to bigger cities for these resources! Having access to early childhood education centers with highly trained teachers will aid in a growth of skill sets needed for school readiness.”

CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs received a $10,000 grant award to offer Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) Telehealth Services to rural hospitals and clinics in Pottawattamie, Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, and Shelby counties. Nationally, reports of domestic violence have risen sharply since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and rural southwest Iowa faces significant barriers to accessing FNE services due to locations of emergency rooms, fear of identification in small close-knit communities, transportation, or stigma. The CHI Health Mercy FNE program will expand to critical access hospitals/clinics in rural communities to better treat patients who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Funds will support the successful implementation of telehealth services by purchasing technology equipment, training of nurses, and providing community education, as telehealth services are not currently in place for the FNE program.

“With the support of the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation grant, CHI Health's Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) Program will be able to expand its reach in Southwest Iowa by providing specialized forensic care and hopefully reduce the amount of trauma experienced by those affected by sexual assault,” said Jodi Hayes, FNE Supervisor for CHI Health. “The grant will allow us to collaborate with victim advocates and community partners to provide the necessary aftercare resources victims need. This funding and program expansion will also allow us to collaborate with law enforcement to increase prosecution of violent offenders.”

“We are grateful to be awarded this funding, as it allows us to expand our current program and reach more victims of abuse in Southwest Iowa,” said Denise McNitt, Vice President of Patient Care at CHI Health Mercy Hospital. “This grant and our partnership with the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation (PCCF) enables us to continue this mission of caring.”

West Pottawattamie Extension and Outreach received a $5,000 grant award for the Speak Up Be Safe! (SUBS) program in Pottawattamie County that provides safety rules and direct program education to more than 5,000 students annually. SUBS is an established curriculum for students that include: It’s My Body, I Have Choices, Tell Someone, Healthy Relationships, and Resist Strategies. Each grade level is two classroom sessions and provides materials for parents, with an opportunity to provide virtual programming in 2021. Grant funding from PCCF will help West Pottawattamie Extension and Outreach continue to reach preK-3rd grade youth, expand the program reach to 4th grade youth, and help increase safety awareness for all youth in preK-4th grade.

“With the inception of the first sexual abuse program in the early ‘80’s, West Pottawattamie Extension and Outreach has historically empowered children with the tools they need to identify situations that could harm or hurt them, how to get away and how to ask for help,” said Carol Waters, County Director of West Pottawattamie Extension and Outreach. “These tools are a steppingstone to strong, confident children who will stand up for themselves regardless of the situation they encounter. This grant from the PCCF Women’s Fund will allow us to continue to grow the program from a PreK – 3rd grade program into a PreK – 8th grade program and eventually expand into high school where healthy relationships are part of the focus.”


About the Women’s Fund Through purposeful planning, strategic insight, and a collaborative needs-assessment within the communities that make up southwest Iowa, the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa is designed to improve the quality of life and well-being of women and their families. The field of interest fund at Pottawattamie County Community Foundation supports eight counties in southwest Iowa: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, and Shelby. The goal of the fund is to reach out and work closely with organizations to identify needs and design tangible solutions. Four focus areas include:

  • Education Initiatives for Women of All Ages– Increased focus on STEM initiatives, health and safety, personal finance, leadership, equity, and community engagement;

  • Accessible and Affordable Childcare – Accessible and affordable childcare and early learning programming, and access to safe and affordable transportation related to childcare;

  • Women’s Health, Safety, and Well-being – Services focused on women’s health, safety, education, workforce equity, and well-being. Programs promoting dignity and equity for women and their children; and

  • Aging in Place – Programs and services designed to help women age gracefully in their communities, including access to quality and affordable healthcare, healthy foods, exercise, place-making, family resources, and volunteer services for women aging in place.

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa awards grants to nonprofit organizations who provide services within the geographic area and can demonstrate need and ability to create change to the benefit, growth, education, and welfare of women and their families. Additional information about the fund and granting guidelines can be found at www.ourpccf.org/womens-fund.