Women's fund of southwest iowa funds five programs in inaugural grant cycle

PCCF | July 9, 2020

Pottawattamie County Community Foundation announced on July 9 that the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa’s inaugural grant cycle has awarded $48,640 in project funding to five organizations. Grants to Kids Place (Glenwood), Essex Child Center, Heartland Family Service, Centro Latino of Iowa, and Children’s Square U.S.A. will support programming and projects that are focused on improving the quality of life and well-being of women and children in southwest Iowa.

“As we have worked to develop the purpose and focus for the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa, it has become increasingly important and urgent to build these financial and operational resources to create tangible solutions for community-wide impact,” said Janet Whitson, Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa committee member and Pottawattamie County resident. “We are truly excited to be at the forefront of addressing these key issues facing women and their families here in southwest Iowa.”

Centro Latino of Iowa was awarded $10,000 designated as scholarship support for low-to-medium income Latina women living in southwest Iowa to register for the Southwest Iowa Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship Program. Grant funding will be used to award 25 tuition scholarships for Latina women to attend the 20 hour program designed to help entrepreneurs effectively start a small business. Components will include vision and mission development, goal setting, accounting/bookkeeping and taxes, insurance, employment law, market analysis, marketing, reading financial statements, and financial projections. The mission of Centro Latino is to educate and empower Hispanic/Latino individuals and families towards thriving, self-sufficient, and healthy lives. Individuals throughout southwest Iowa in the counties of: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby will benefit from this grant.

”Centro Latino of Iowa is most grateful for receiving the PCCF Women's Fund of Southwest Iowa inaugural grant to support our Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship Program by financially supporting Latinas Entrepreneurs,” said Ramon Calzada, Centro Latino of Iowa executive director. “The projected goal is to increase the number of Latino-owned businesses, but most especially affordable home-based childcare businesses owned by Latino women.”

Children’s Square U.S.A. was awarded $10,000 to support the purchase of a van to provide safe transportation for parenting teens and their children. Parenting teens face a multitude of barriers to completing their education, with safe and reliable transportation being one of those barriers. Children’s Square U.S.A. will work with Council Bluffs Community Schools, Lewis Central Schools and area partners to identify parenting teens in need of transportation and resources so that the teens can remain in school and working towards a high school diploma and/or acquisition of credits. The mission of Children’s Square U.S.A. is to teach each child every day, the values and life skills essential to a successful life – one full of caring, contribution and commitment. Children’s Square recognizes the unique importance of each child and their philosophy and programs develop individual abilities and talents, building in each: the vision to see and the value of setting an ideal for which to reach; the courage to try and the value of accepting each obstacle as a challenge to meet; and the will to succeed and the value of making the commitment to persevere. Individuals in Pottawattamie County will benefit from this grant.

“Children’s Square U.S.A. is thrilled to be awarded a Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa Grant,” said Cheryl Clark, Vice President of Resource Development at Children’s Square U.S.A. “Research shows there is a strong connection between parents’ education level and their children’s well-being. This grant will help create a pathway for pregnant and parenting teens to complete high school by assisting with transportation to and from high quality childcare. Helping teen parents complete high school is one step on the road towards potential post-secondary education and a more secure future for their family.”

Essex Child Center, a child care facility in Essex, Iowa, has been awarded $8,640 to support preschool tuition assistance. There are families who choose to forego preschool for their children due to the added monthly expense, and studies show the importance and advantages of an early childhood education, such as: improved social skills, better performance in grade school, improved attention spans, and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. The grant will allow Essex Child Center to enroll an additional 16 children in the preschool program by providing tuition assistance to families. The mission of Essex Child Center is to provide a safe, nurturing, and healthy learning environment for children ages six weeks through 12 years of age. Their focus is to provide a stimulating early care and education experience, which promotes each child’s social/emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Individuals in Montgomery and Page counties will benefit from this grant.

“The Essex Child Center is truly grateful for the funding received from the Women’s Fund Grant, and it is hard to express in words what this means to us,” said Tonya Stoaks, director of the Essex Child Center. “This funding will allow us to provide a free preschool program to 16 three- year-olds for the 2020-2021 school year. In southwest Iowa it is very rare and also extremely important to be able to offer this program at no cost to parents, especially in the midst of a pandemic. To us, this means we will be serving the children in our community to the best of our ability with no financial strain to the families. We are so thankful for the support we have received from the PCCF Women’s Fund Grant, and cannot wait to implement our tuition-free preschool program!

Heartland Family Service has been awarded $10,000 to support childcare needs and family activities for the Iowa Family Works Program as individuals continue to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa Family Works promotes long-lasting recovery for women and mothers to preserve and strengthen healthy development for the women, their children, and the family unit. The mission of Heartland Family Service is to strengthen individuals and families in our community through education, counseling, and support services. Individuals throughout southwest Iowa in the counties of: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, and Shelby will benefit from this grant.

“Funds from the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa for the Heartland Family Service Iowa Family Works program support a life-changing program which provides residential treatment for mothers and family services,” said John Jeanetta, president and CEO of Heartland Family Service. “The funds enable us to provide childcare onsite to mitigate the risk of COVID exposure for the families and employees in our program. It will also allow us to purchase items for healthy family activities. Family time is an important aspect of the program that often includes community events, but with COVID we had to transition to onsite activities. Kickball, yard games, back yard picnics and chalk art are a few of the activities the families may enjoy during this time of quarantine isolation. We are so grateful for the support from the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa!”

Kids Place, a child care facility in Glenwood, Iowa, has been awarded $10,000 to support classroom repairs and renovations. The project will renovate and repurpose existing space to accommodate the community’s need for child care and will ultimately increase enrollment for the facility. The mission of Kids Place is to provide a safe, comfortable, and nurturing environment for all children to learn, love, and grow, and to offer peace of mind to parents through equal, dependable, quality child care. Individuals in Mills County will benefit from this grant.

“This funding opportunity is greatly appreciated and will allow Kids Place to make renovations to our rooms,” said Heidi Lunn, director of Kids Place. “Our goal is to provide care to as many families as possible in our community and surrounding areas now and for many years to come. Our priority is to use our facility to its fullest potential, and give families a safe, nurturing, quality center for their children to grow and learn in.”

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 was 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 will support 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.

“Through the amazing generosity of our community, the Iowa West Foundation, the Lozier Foundation, Jerry Banks, an anonymous supporter, and several other generous investors, the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa is becoming the catalyst for durable, lasting solutions for the issues facing women and their families,” said Donna Dostal, president and CEO of Pottawattamie County Community Foundation. “We are so excited for the five organizations launching and expanding their programs because of this generosity, and look forward to measuring the impact these programs will create in our communities.”

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa will award 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.