The Impact of Funders on Family Economic Success

Page 1



FROM MEMBERS OF THE IOWA COUNCIL OF FOUNDATIONS Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque Iowa Credit Union Foundation Iowa West Foundation Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation | | 515.989.1188 Š Iowa Council of Foundations, 2012


The Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF) has partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and regional associations of grantmakers from across the country to support our members in digging deeper into issues, ideas and models that ultimately help to move families out of poverty toward economic stability (often called the Family Economic Success (FES) model). The FES approach (coined by the Annie E. Casey Foundation) presents strategies to meet the needs of each family while also addressing the racial disparities in income, education, asset-building and homeownership. In addition, FES takes into account the vital importance of safe neighborhoods, affordable transportation and child care, fairly priced goods and services and affordable financial services that are important to a family’s long-term economic success. Through the financial support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Iowa Council of Foundations has compiled the following 5 stories to showcase the important work of Iowa grantmakers that can also serve as a model for other funders. Members of the ICoF were invited to submit impact stories that highlight ways in which the grantmaking organization supports efforts to move families to economic security. Special thanks to ICoF members who submitted their stories and continue to make a difference in lives all across Iowa. | | 515.989.1188


Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

The Central Iowa Works Funding Collaborative, a public/private partnership in Des Moines, matches unemployed and low-wage workers to specific training and job opportunities in key local industries. The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines’ leadership and $80,000 in funding helped the Collaborative secure a $1 million national grant to expand and enhance the program. “We’re all about leveraging funding,” says Kristi Knous, president and chief operating officer of the Community Foundation. “We could never have the kind of impact alone that we can have together” with businesses, colleges, nonprofit organizations, economic and government agencies, and other philanthropic donors. The Community Foundation also has served as a key player in the Collaborative’s efforts. “It makes sense for the Community Foundation to be at the table,” Knous says. “You can’t improve the quality of life in the community unless there’s a strong work force.” The Collaborative has a dual purpose: to serve employers and workers by addressing the critical needs of both groups. A skills gap makes it difficult for employers to meet their work force needs and for displaced or underemployed workers to move into better-paying jobs that lead to long-term financial stability, explains Cassandra Halls, the Collaborative’s project manager. The Collaborative strives to close that gap through educating and training workers in the skills employers need, and then linking the workers to available positions. A major component of the partnership is involving employers in four important local industries: health care, financial services, energy and advanced manufacturing, Halls says. “You can’t improve the Companies in these industries are working together to address workforce development and quality of life in the job readiness issues. “When you look at how people can become economically secure and community unless there’s a successful, we realized the employers had to drive that process,” Halls says. “We have an strong work force.” amazing network of employers talking with KRISTI KNOUS, PRESIDENT & COO each other and sharing ideas.” Through the programs and services the Collaborative has supported since it began in 2008, 1,087 people have secured jobs, 3,235 have enrolled in educational and training programs, and 1,216 have earned industry-specific credentials. “We have been able to far exceed the impact our funding has had by joining with others to address the issue of workforce development in our community,” Knous says. “Collaborative efforts like this are an effective tool toward making real, lasting community change.” | | 515.989.1188 | pg 1


Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque In 2007, a group of concerned citizens in Dubuque formed the Bridges Initiative, a community-wide collaboration that aims to address the barriers that keep residents below the poverty line and provide the tools families need to build financial stability. Support from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has enabled Bridges to expand its reach and increase its impact over the past few years. “We seek to strengthen the systems that help people get out of poverty and connect with long-term employment,” says Eric Dregne, vice president of programs for the Community Foundation. To that end, the Community Foundation decided to partner more closely with the Bridges Initiative, assisting with strategic planning, technical support, board development and recruitment, and data collection. Plus, in addition to providing grant support, the Community Foundation has helped Bridges research, and connect with, other funding sources. This hands-on involvement and training has strengthened Bridges’ structure, organization and operations, ultimately helping ensure the program’s long-term sustainability, Dregne says. Better data collection, for example, enables Bridges to show the initiative’s positive results and explain its effectiveness. “We’ve seen Bridges’ data improve dramatically,” Dregne says. “Before we were less able to communicate the impact on the people they were helping; now, we are able to measure our work and report clear outcomes.” Some of those outcomes include educating more than 2,000 middle- and upper-income individuals, as well as businesses and “We seek to strengthen the community agencies, on the culture of poverty and how to reduce and eliminate it. In addition, systems that help people get more than 150 low-income individuals have completed a 16-week course that explores the out of poverty and connect effect of poverty on their lives and helps them with long-term employment.” set economic goals and find jobs that pay livable wages. Eighty percent of participants ERIC DREGNE, who’ve completed the program have secured VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGR AMS jobs or better-paying positions or pursued educational opportunities. In 2010, the Bridges Initiative launched the “Circles”® component of the project, which focuses on fostering relationships between families living below the poverty line and those earning middle-class and above incomes. Such facts “build a case, or a story line, that we can use to write grants that attract larger donations and more sustainable funding streams,” Dregne says. He adds that working with the Bridges Initiative “is a great fit with who we are as a Foundation and how we do our work.” | | 515.989.1188 | pg 2


Iowa Credit Union Foundation

Families across Iowa are becoming more financially stable through a savings program spearheaded by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. The Individual Development Account program (IDA), available at 21 credit unions in 91 Iowa counties, offers matching funds for savings accounts. Program participants then use their savings to purchase a specific asset that will help them move toward long-term economic security, explains Marybeth Foster, executive director of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. For example, the individual may make a down payment on a home, capitalize a small business, go back to school, buy a car for work, or receive job training. Since the program began in the fall of 2008, 201 Iowans have participated, and 70 assets have been purchased. Currently, 97 people are enrolled. The IDA program stemmed from a series of strategic planning sessions the Foundation held in 2007. “The board decided to address how Iowans can become more financially stable,” she says. The IDA “was a concrete program that would help families achieve that goal through our credit union system.” The Foundation, which will match up to $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a family, helps raise matching funds for the program from federal and state government sources as well as from donors and organizations. In addition, the Foundation is responsible for the program’s policies and procedures. Participants are required to save a minimum of $25 for at least six months, though the average monthly deposit is about $100, Foster says. Contrary to a common perception, “low-income people want to save,” she says, adding that most of the participants don’t receive public assistance but rather work at low-wage hourly jobs. A key component of the program is financial literacy training, Foster notes, and most of the credit unions offer one-on-one financial education. The credit unions also manage the IDAs, though the Foundation holds the matching funds for participants until they reach their savings goal.

“A lot of our savers are building a habit of saving that helps them build good credit and become more financially secure in the long-term.” MARYBETH FOSTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

National research on IDA outcomes has shown that program participants are more likely to save in the future and less likely to go through foreclosure than other low-income individuals, Foster says. What’s more, “economic development is ingrained in the program, as it helps the local economy wherever the person is buying an asset, starting a business or paying property taxes,” she says. “It’s great to see the successes people experience” with an IDA, she adds. “A lot of our savers are building a habit of saving that helps them build good credit and become more financially secure in the long-term.” | | 515.989.1188 | pg 3


Iowa West Foundation

A scholarship program designed to give nontraditional students the tools they need to succeed in today’s workplace is now reaching more people, thanks to the Iowa West Foundation in Council Bluffs. The Scholarships and Training for Adult Re-entry Students (STARS) program, which is administered by the Council Bluffs Community Education Foundation, began in 1997. It provides up to $2,000 a year to low-income adults to help them earn certification, a license, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree that will lead to stable or better-paying jobs. Since 2008, the Iowa West Foundation has made two grants totaling more than $1 million to expand and enhance the program, says Jerry Mathiasen, senior vice president of the Foundation. The money has been used to boost scholarship funding, resulting in a tenfold jump in the number of participants—from 10 to 100 a year. The grant also supports a staff position at the Community Education Foundation that is dedicated solely to developing and marketing STARS and to serving participants. Iowa West Foundation’s decision to increase its support of STARS stemmed from an extensive 2007 needs assessment study of Pottawattamie County. The comprehensive assessment showed that education was the county’s number-one need, Mathiasen says. As a result, “we made educational attainment the top priority for the Iowa West Foundation,” he says. With that goal, the Foundation asked experts to conduct a thorough evaluation of existing programs. “STARS came back with resounding positive reports; participants said that without the scholarship, they wouldn’t have been able to return to school,” he says.

“We’re really pleased with how our funding has helped even more adults improve their lives.”

The evaluation found that after completing the program, participants earned higher wages, JERRY MATHIASEN, relied less on public assistance and were more SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT likely to stay in the area, he adds. Specifically, the employment rate of STARS participants increased from 54 to 77 percent, and the average hourly wage grew from $9.21 to $14.58. Nearly half of all participants moved to new housing. But the evaluation also found STARS was being under-utilized. That fact, coupled with the program’s highly effective results, spurred the Foundation to make the two grants. “We’re really pleased with how our funding has helped even more adults improve their lives,” Mathiasen says. | | 515.989.1188 | pg 4


Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation

Low-income students in Marshalltown whose parents never attended college are getting the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education through a program initiated by the Marshalltown Education Partnership (MEP), a community collaboration convened by the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation. “The situation of being the first person in your family to attend college is a big hurdle,” explains Sue Martin, executive director of the Foundation. “Scholarships alone aren’t enough for students who don’t have that model (of higher education) in their background.” To first build an aspiration for continuing education and an understanding of the process, MEP provides students with resources and a system of support throughout high school. If participating students meet the program’s requirements and graduate, they then receive tuition assistance. The program not only increases students’ opportunities and long-term earning potential but also leads to a higher quality of life in the community, Martin says. “We see (MEP) essentially as an economic development effort and work force program.” MEP began as response to the fact that Marshalltown has a higher poverty rate than Iowa’s overall rate, and also is home to a growing number of Latino immigrants— about one in four residents is Hispanic—for whom higher education had rarely been an option. In 2004, the Foundation convened local business leaders, educators and parents to address the issue, with MEP evolving from that effort. “We honed in on the challenges our school system faced and what the potential might be for moving forward in work force development,” Martin says. The Foundation initially invested $150,000 in the program and continues to help fund it today, while also serving in an advisory role. In 2010, the Foundation pledged an additional $250,000 to MEP as part of a $1 million fund-raising campaign. The Foundation “We firmly believe “points to this as our signature project,” Martin says. “We firmly believe education is the surest education is the surest path out of poverty.”

path out of poverty.” Students who participate in the program sign a SUE MARTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR contract along with their parents stating they will meet specific attendance and academic standards. Throughout high school, they collaborate with others with similar goals and also work closely with a counselor who helps them tackle any challenges. In addition, community members may serve as mentors to the students. If students successfully complete the program, they receive tuition assistance toward a certificate diploma or an associate degree at Marshalltown Community College. Since 2006, 73 students have fulfilled the program’s commitment; 25 first-generation students have graduated from community college; 23 more are currently enrolled; 15 are pursuing a bachelor’s degree and one a master’s degree. Participation in the program has grown from 64 students the first semester it was offered to a current enrollment of 300. “We are building a culture of aspiration for post-secondary education,” Martin says. “The program is changing lives and building a strong future.” | | 515.989.1188 | pg 5 | | 515.989.1188 Š Iowa Council of Foundations, 2012

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.