Iowa West Foundation grants more than $5 million to local nonprofits

Originally published: March 29, 2022

Iowa West Foundation grants more than $5 million to local nonprofits

The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved $5.1 million in grants and initiatives to nearly 30 nonprofits in the region. Approximately $2.4 million went to nonprofits with missions centered on healthy families, education, and arts enrichment for youth in southwest Iowa, in the form of multi-year funding for operating costs.

“The multi-year funding program has provided more than $10 million to nonprofits who serve Iowa residents,” foundation President and CEO Brenda Mainwaring said in a release. “It’s difficult for nonprofits to secure funds for operating expenses. We decided to address that gap in the funding stream. Our multi-year funding program is designed for long-standing nonprofit partners and allows them to focus less on fundraising and more on their missions for the community.”

The foundation said funding is critical to organizations like Council Bluffs’ based Family Inc., which received $120,000 for the sixth year in a row.

“Our partnership with Iowa West Foundation on the multi-year funding program has been transformational,” said Kimberly Kolakowski, executive director of Family Inc., said in the release. “As a result of receiving operational funds that allow the organization’s focus to remain on serving families, we have implemented new programming, expanded infrastructure within the organization and ensured employees have the tools and training they need to provide the highest quality services.”

Mainwaring credited the long-term partnership with Ameristar, Harrah’s and Horseshoe for the foundation’s ability to make such a meaningful, long-term impact in the community. Fees from gaming and investment income are what enables Iowa West to fund operating, capital and programmatic grants throughout 18 counties in southwest Iowa.

“We also have contributed 1.1 million to the Green Hills Area Education Agency. That is for preschool funding, it ensures that all four year olds that want it have the ability to get full day preschool,” Mainwaring told the Council Bluffs City Council during its study session on Monday. “We’ve given them more than $1 million (per year) since 2007, so we’re about $15 ½ million invested in preschool, most all of that going to Council Bluffs School District.”

Additionally, Pottawattamie Promise received $542,443 in grant funding.

“That is a scholarship program for students who don’t traditionally have a pathway to high school. They tend to be middle of the road students. They are eligible for Pell and low family income,” Mainwaring told the council. “Oftentimes they’re the first in their family to go to school. And part of the program is to make sure they have wraparound counseling services to help them get some of those skills that they’re not necessarily getting at home, to encourage them to study, help them decide what they want to do.”

For this cycle, the rural communities of Audubon, Griswold, Harlan, Treynor, and Woodbine received funding for placemaking projects in their communities, including recreation amenities, infrastructure upgrades, and fire safety. Treynor resident Wendy Andersen said she is “extremely grateful” for the $50,000 grant for a project that will include an inclusive playground, splash pad and memorial trailhead in her community.

“This grant solidifies and ensures that we are able to start the construction process right now,” Andersen said in the release. “We are excited to have an inclusive gathering place in the community for all families to experience life together.”

The Iowa West Foundation now accepts Letters of Inquiry (the first step in the grant application process) year-round with deadlines of Jan. 1, May. 1 and Sept. 1 prior to each of the three grants cycles. For more information on recent changes to the application process, a virtual grants workshop will be held on Thursday, April 22. Details and registration can be found at:

2022 Cycle 1 Grants and Initiatives

American Midwest Ballet

Multi-year funding


Audubon Recreation Foundation

Recreation center expansion


Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands

Multi-Year funding


Bridges Out of Poverty

Southwest Iowa Poverty Alleviation Initiative


City of Griswold

Main Street revitalization


Durham Museum

Multi-year funding



Multi-year funding


Green Hills AEA

Multi-year funding – preschool


Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development

Kitchen Council


Heartland Family Service

Multi-year funding


Iowa Western Community College Foundation

Multi-year funding – Arts Center


Iowa Western Community College

Pottawattamie Promise


Joslyn Art Museum

Multi-year funding


Joslyn Art Museum

Evolve Joslyn capital campaign


Justice For Our Neighbors

Multi-year funding


Lauritzen Gardens

Play and Grow


Lauritzen Garden

Multi-year funding


Lutheran Family Services

Multi-year funding


Merrymakers Association

Music, Memories and Joy to southwest Iowa senior citizens



Multi-year funding


Omaha Children’s Museum

Multi-year funding


Omaha Symphony Association

Multi-year funding


Opera Omaha

Multi-year funding


Rose Theater

Multi-year funding


Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment (PACE)

Multi-year funding


Pottawattamie County

CITIES Program – Carson


Pottawattamie County

CITIES Program – Neola


Shelby County Fair Corporation

Fairground Improvements


Southwest Iowa Housing Trust Fund

Housing repair


Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy

Summer Leadership Academy


Treynor State Bank Community Foundation

The T – recreation center


United Way of the Midlands

Community Care Fund


Woodbine Fire & Rescue

Extrication Gear for EMS


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