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community WINTER 2015



CELEBRATION RECOGNIZES NONPROFIT SECTOR AND PROFESSIONALS Nearly 300 community members gathered for Celebration of Community, an event hosted by the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Theatre Cedar Rapids to celebrate and recognize the work of nonprofits and the impact of grantmaking in our community. “The programs and services of nonprofit organizations make our community a better place for all of us to live,” said Les Garner, President & CEO of the Community Foundation. “The nonprofit sector deals with some of our community’s greatest public challenges and opportunities. We are proud to work together with these organizations to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.” The program featured several examples of philanthropy and nonprofits working together to create a vibrant community. It shared many recent grant-funded projects including a story of several nonprofits working together on a coordinated in-take model to better serve the homeless population in Linn County. 2 COMMUNITY

Two nonprofit excellence awards were also presented to nonprofit professionals who go above and beyond to support the mission of their organizations. The Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award recognizes the leadership and accomplishments of a Linn County nonprofit organization leader who offers exceptional service and creates a lasting impact on his/her organization and the community. This award was presented to Kathy L. Hall, Vice President, Development, Kirkwood Community College, and Executive Director, Kirkwood Foundation. The Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award recognizes a nonprofit staff member who has gone “above and beyond” in their support of the organization’s mission and has greatly enhanced the overall effectiveness of the organization through his/her work. This award was presented to Dave O’Clair, Facilities Director, Four Oaks. In addition to an award, each recipient received a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation designated for staff development at the honoree’s organization.




Throughout her 25 year career in the nonprofit sector, Kathy has influenced many organizations and touched many lives.

Dave O’Clair has held many positions in his 25-year career with Four Oaks. He began as a social worker, working with boys with challenging mental health and behavior issues.

In addition to her leadership in her professional roles at Kirkwood Community College, and formerly at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Kathy gives much of her time serving on boards and as an informal peer advisor for many nonprofit professionals.

Eventually, Dave moved into facilities roles including the management of the reconstruction of 400 apartment units at Cedar Valley and Hawthorne Hills. Dave tirelessly worked with clients with mental health challenges to solve their issues. He managed the challenge of moving people around by being available to work with them at all hours and days of the week.

At Kirkwood, Kathy leads the college’s development efforts, including the Kirkwood Foundation, which consistently ranks among the top ten community college foundations nationally. During Kathy’s tenure since 2008, Foundation assets doubled from $15 million to $31 million in 2015. She has led many campaigns, including Kirkwood’s Real World Success campaign, which recently closed with over $18.9 million raised, well over the $12.5 million goal.

But perhaps none of his roles were more critical than the work he is doing now with the TotalChild housing strategy. Dave is part of a team of many community partners, which has rehabbed nearly 100 properties in the historic Wellington Heights neighborhood.

Kathy L. Hall Vice President, Development, Kirkwood Community College Executive Director, Kirkwood Foundation

Kirkwood’s scholarship program is one of the largest in the country, with over $3 million in funding available to nearly 1,500 students for the 2016 academic year. Kathy’s leadership, vision, integrity, and compassion have impacted many organizations and people.

Dave O’Clair Facilities Director Four Oaks

Dave’s skillset in social work and construction has made him successful in getting to know the people in the neighborhood. He takes extra time to understand their needs and challenges to better serve them. This has led to better results in housing and bringing residents together. Dave’s commitment to the families he serves, his compassion for helping to meet their needs, and his vision for neighborhoods is inspiring. His efforts have made a tremendous difference in our community. WINTER 2015 3

PHILANTHROPY LEADS TO SUMMER LEARNING INNOVATION Local philanthropists turn an idea into reality by supporting the expansion of a summer learning program. It’s the kind of crisis that puts the future of our community at risk. Almost one in four Iowa third graders failed new reading tests this past spring. This is deeply troubling because by third grade, curriculums change and instead of learning to read, students are required to read to learn. The inability to read at grade level can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to succeed academically and obtain steady employment in the future. This problem is compounded by the fact that, under our current system, students have three months out of the year where they are not required to practice their academic skills. The “summer slide” that occurs when children do not continue to practice reading, writing and arithmetic in the summer months can make these discrepancies in academic achievement even more problematic.

are disproportionately likely to come from low-income families. This lack of resources means that the summer enrichment activities that combat summer slide are generally unavailable to these same children. And, as the problem compounds, poor academic achievement will limit employment opportunities in the future. Enter Brent and Dawn Cobb. The two philanthropists have always had an interest in children and their well-being. The couple had heard about a program called Kids on Course from Brent’s father Pat, the chairman of the Zach Johnson Foundation, which funds the Kids on Course program in Cedar Rapids. Pat Cobb talked often of the success that Kids on Course was seeing – especially with their Summer University. The Summer University worked much like a summer school, except that it disguised academics as fun and games. The results they were seeing indicated that they could avoid summer slide, and even help kids reach grade level reading proficiency, during the summer months.

This is profound, because the state recently announced that students who are not able to read at grade level by third grade will be required to either repeat the year, or participate in a state-approved summer program. It was over Christmas dinner last year that Brent finally School districts and organizations across Iowa have been took his father’s bait. “I had heard the story of the gains concerned about what these summer programs will look like – there’s no guarantee they’ll be effective or affordable. over and over again, and I finally said, what are the dollars and cents to expand it to other schools?” After The real problem, of course, is that the children who running the numbers, they realized that duplicating the are most likely to be behind in reading comprehension summer program was actually doable. Initially, the Cobbs


Dawn and Brent Cobb and Patti and Loren Coppock

had intended to fund a summer program at Hiawatha Elementary School; a school located near the family business and one with a high level of need. However, they quickly discovered that summer construction plans would keep them from using the school as a site for the program. They did, however, have the opportunity to expand the pilot even further by combining with Nixon Elementary School, and using their site as the program’s location. Of course, this increased the number of students that would be participating, and more support would be needed to fund the program. Working with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, another couple was identified with similar philanthropic interests, Loren and Patti Coppock. The Coppocks loved the idea, and so, the Kids on Course Summer University Pilot Program at Nixon was established. With the financial support to do the work, the local Kids on Course staff began assembling their team and the faculty at Nixon and Hiawatha began recruiting their most at-risk students.

intended. Students spent the past summer engaging in hands-on learning and in diverse enrichment activities, both on and off site. They also participated in skills testing. Lead teacher Casey Woods immediately noticed the impact the program had on her students. Assessment testing at the beginning of this school year confirmed that the Cobb’s hope had been correct – students who had participated in the stand-alone pilot program made significant gains in reading and writing. While the Cobbs’ primary goal was to help children by supporting education, they also succeeded in proving that the Kids on Course Summer University could work as a stand-alone pilot program. Their private philanthropy was able to spark innovation, and test a model for tackling reading comprehension and summer slide with a summer program. It remains to be seen what the long-term impact of the Cobb’s philanthropy will be, but for this school year, it meant that 52 Nixon and Hiawatha Elementary students will have a better chance of keeping step with their peers in the coming years.

Thanks to committed Kids on Course staff and volunteers, the Summer University Pilot Program took place as

ENDOW IOWA TAX CREDIT REACHES CAPACITY The Iowa Economic Development Authority recently announced that the statutory cap of $6 million for the 2015 Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program has been exhausted and no more tax credits in 2015 will be granted. Those who did not receive the Endow Iowa tax credits in 2015 still qualify for federal deductibility and will be first in line to receive the Endow Iowa tax credits in 2016. SPRING 2015 5 WINTER

GRANTMAKING One of the biggest problems facing women and girls is self-esteem. Girls on the Run encourages my girls to have confidence in themselves through a fun, noncompetitive program. I’ve already seen a change in my youngest daughter’s attitude about herself. – Emily Diehl Kenwood Elementary School mom whose daughters, Evey and Haven, have participated in Girls on the Run A Program Fund grant supported Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa’s efforts at schools in Linn County.The program is volunteer-driven and aims to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

One of the most profound things about Red Cedar is that they bring the music to the people, and it’s right there just a few feet away from them. They go to outlying, smaller communities that don’t have performance venues like Cedar Rapids. They go out to the people. – Melissa Summers Red Cedar Chamber Board Member

A Linn County Fund grant supported Red Cedar Chamber Music’s rural community outreach efforts.The organization was founded in 1997 by Jan Boland and John Dowdall and presents ensemble chamber music through educational and interactive performances. The 2015-2016 season is a transition period for the organization; the founders will step aside from an official leadership role and as core musicians.The organization’s board has invited Miera Kim and Casey Bostian to become Red Cedar’s new directors and core musicians beginning in July 2016. Board member Melissa Summers first learned about the educational programs while collaborating with the organization as the Fine Arts Facilitator for the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Since then, she has become increasingly involved in the organization. 6 COMMUNITY

DONORSCHOOSE.ORG MATCH BRINGS MAKERSPACE TO STUDENTS In past years, the Community Foundation held a grant cycle for teachers that supported projects in Linn County classrooms. This year, the Foundation piloted the use of DonorsChoose.org by offering a 1:1 match for donations to public school teacher projects in Linn County. It launched in August and awarded $25,000 in matching grants, funding 62 projects at 23 schools. Mary Priske, a librarian at Washington Elementary School in Mount Vernon, had three projects funded thanks to the Community Foundation’s match on DonorsChoose.org. “All I kept thinking was – why haven’t I done this before? It was an easy process. In today’s climate, there’s unfortunately not always support for education. DonorsChoose let me recognize what was best for my students, and just go for it.” DonorsChoose brought MakerSpace materials to the school library. The MakerSpace promotes hands-on exploration, creativity, problem solving and collaboration skills. Students will use the materials to explore, tinker and create.



The City of Cedar Rapids has launched a new microloan program, administered by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, to assist Cedar Rapids residents with business expenses related to start-up or expansions. The Community Foundation was involved in convening several organizations and private donors to assist with program development. The program, called MICRO, offers loans ranging from $1,000$10,000, to be repaid in up to three years at four percent interest. Other collaborative partners include: Cedar Rapids Public Library, SCORE and the Small Business Development Center. For more information about MICRO, go to http://www.ecicog.org/micro.html.

Fifty development professionals in the nonprofit sector gathered at the Community Foundation on September 15th for a Development Boot Camp training about how to take control of a fund development plan. The training was hosted by the Nonprofit Network and presented by the Development Team at the Community Foundation. For information on upcoming nonprofit trainings, visit https://www.gcrcf.org/nonprofits/nonprofit-network/ or call Carrie Walker at 319-774-2375 or carrie.walker@gcrcf.org.

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Community Newsletter Winter 2015  

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