The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors has approved up to $500,000 in emergency funding to help southwest Iowa nonprofits and public health organizations in crisis because of COVID-19. Additionally, the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation is taking donations to help nonprofits on the front line of mitigating need during the pandemic.

The Iowa West funding is in addition to ongoing operating funding already in place for several human services, and arts- and education-related organizations, Iowa West said on Wednesday.

Foundation staff have created an application with the objective for the funds to be rapidly deployable.

“The foundation is in a position to step in during this critical time of need and we want to help,” Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, said in a release. “Our nonprofit and community partners are on the front line combating the fallout from COVID-19, including those organizations who serve the homeless, the hungry, and other vulnerable individuals in our community.”

In the release, foundation leadership emphasized their commitment to support both rural and urban systems and areas.

Iowa West said the over-arching goal of the fund is to respond to the evolving needs with respect to the following areas:

  • Emergency assistance to vulnerable populations — This funding would support those who are food insecure, shelter insecure or facing acute behavioral health needs. Basic needs would be prioritized and applicants would be asked to identify their strategies for establishing ways to meet new needs or scale existing programs. Examples would include mobile pantries, expanded rental and utility assistance, meals on wheels, rural food deliveries, and support to homeless shelters and homeless needs.
  • Public health expanded infrastructure — Recognizing that the existing infrastructure for public health was not designed for the current circumstances, this funding would support innovative approaches to responding to COVID-19, such as public information, drive-through testing or other novel infrastructure. While hospitals are usually ineligible for Iowa West Foundation support, for the purposes of this fund alone, they would have the opportunity to apply given the above restrictions.
  • Continuity of nonprofit operations — This funding would support nonprofit partners who are unable to meet payroll as a result of fundraising loss, event cancellation, or other COVID-19 related impacts. Applicants would be asked to show an expected gap in their ability to support their staff during the near-term of three to six months. This would only be available to organizations that have offices in southwest Iowa. Specific priority should be given to existing multi-year funding recipients in this category.

The announcement of the emergency fund comes a day after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency, shutting down a number of public entities.

“There are going to be very real effects on vulnerable members of our community,” Tulipana said. “We want to do everything we can to mitigate potential negative outcomes so that southwest Iowa continues to be a place where families want to live and businesses want to locate.”

More information including the application can be found at iowawestfoundation.org. Applications can be submitted via e-mail to grantinfo@iowawestfoundation.org.

Additionally, the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation announced earlier this week that the Pottawattamie County Disaster Long Term Recovery and Unmet Needs Fund, established in 2019, is currently accepting donations to help support its trusted nonprofit partners providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PCCF said the fund will support the ongoing local efforts of nonprofits addressing challenges brought forth by COVID-19, while also focusing on philanthropic efforts to ensure resources are available to the nonprofit organizations serving Pottawattamie County residents.

“As the local impact of the pandemic unfolds, our community’s desire to help has been inspiring. Contributing to the recovery and unmet needs fund is one of many ways in which everyone can make a difference,” foundation officials said in a release.

The foundation said it will send additional details regarding the recovery and unmet needs fund, granting criteria and distribution processes to its nonprofit partners serving Pottawattamie County.

Donations to support the fund may be made online at ourpccf.org or by check made payable to PCCF. Staff members are available to answer questions by phone at 712-256-7007.

Lastly, Share Omaha, a metro area initiative that offers public opportunities for giving and has an office in Council Bluffs, has a running list of needs from more than 400 nonprofits available at shareomaha.org/covid19.

Share Omaha said the list is growing hourly. Organizations completed a form to detail their deficits, needs and ways to best assist them during this time.

Executive Director Marjorie Maas said nonprofit organizations will feel the effects of this crisis for themselves and constituents.

“For instance, a canceled benefit gala, production or concert is a canceled night out for the public, but could signal a whole change in budget and cashflow for the hosting organization,” Maas said. “Vulnerable clientele of these organizations still need services, and missions must continue serving. Without all our help, many face hard decisions.”

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