Glenwood family donates $100,000 to help women in southwest Iowa

By Mike Brownlee | mbrownlee@nonpareilonline.com

Jan 15, 2020

A fund to help women find educational services, accessible and affordable health care and aging and safety services got a boost Thursday afternoon.

The Banks family of Glenwood donated $100,000 to the Pottawattamie County Communication Foundation Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa. The fund aims to support women in the region through programming designed to improve quality of life and well-being.

Jerry Banks said he raised two daughters as a single father, which “gave me a unique perspective on the issues all women face that are different and more challenging than their male counterparts.”

“I just really wanted to try to make a difference in Glenwood, Council Bluffs and throughout southwest Iowa,” Banks said.

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa was launched in the summer of 2019 after a series of strategic planning and needs-assessment initiatives in the community, the foundation said.

“The goal of the fund is to reach out and work closely with organizations to identify needs and design tangible solutions,” the foundation said in a release.

The fund will focus on four areas, per a release:

        • Education initiatives for young women — Increased focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives, health and safety, personal finance, equity and community engagement.
        • Accessible and affordable health care — Accessible and affordable child care and early learning programming and access to safe and affordable transportation related to child care.
        • Women’s health, safety and well-being — Services focused on health, safety, education, workforce equity and well-being. Programs promoting dignity and equity for women and their children. The fund will also have funding for domestic and sexual violence programs.
        • Aging in place — Programs and services designed to help women age gracefully in their communities, including access to quality and affordable health care, healthy foods, exercise, place-making, family resources and volunteer services for women.

Pottawattamie County Community Foundation President and CEO Donna Dostal said the fund will work, in part, to fill funding gaps for nonprofits dedicated to providing the services covered by the four focus areas. She said some of the funding sources for the region don’t always make it to southwest Iowa.

“We find a distinct need to help nonprofits in this area,” she said. “We know these monies will be a catalyst for that.”

The fund will award grants to area nonprofits. The grant application process will begin in April, with more information available at ourpccf.org/womens-fund.

A key aspect of the fund will be work by the foundation and Omaha-based Category One Consulting to create a measurement rubric for nonprofits to use, “so they can measure their impact in the community,” make adjustments where and if needed, and “tell their story” in southwest Iowa.

Banks donation is the first individual donation to the fund. Dostal said the fund also received a three-to-one matching grant of $167,000 from the Iowa West Foundation. The Banks family donation will “go a long way toward” reaching the $501,000 required to unlock the Iowa West grant.

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