In 2009, the Ceramics Center was just getting started. Now, six years later, the organization is thriving and continues to spread its wings in offering innovative artistic experiences in ceramics and glass to many in our community.
Over the years, as the organization has grown, the Ceramics Center has relied on the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation for grant support in a variety of ways.
For a number of years, the Community Foundation’s Program Fund has supported summer camp opportunities for at-risk youth. In 2013, the Ceramics Center was able to secure multi-year funding for the successful program in partnership with Four Oaks.
“We always try to be cognizant of not duplicating programs,” said Ceramics Center Executive Director Ben Jensen. “This is truly a unique opportunity for these kids.”
Within the last year, the program has expanded to reach even more at-risk youth through additional partnerships with Foundation 2, the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Detention Centers and Unity Point Children’s Health Special Services. “We like running the program, and our partner organizations like working with us. We all see it as beneficial,” said Jensen.
The Ceramics Center also recently received donor-advised funding through the Bloomhall Family Fund to help support their Mobile Clay Lab—basically a pottery studio on wheels—that they can take to various places in the community, such as senior centers, preschools and other nonprofit organizations like the Abbe Center and the ARC to share clay programs.
Jensen said the Ceramics Center appreciates the connections they are able to make at the Community Foundation. “They are local people who understand the needs of the greater Cedar Rapids area. And they want the best for our organization.” He has enjoyed working with staff members over the years. “As the relationship builds and grows it becomes more of a partnership,” Jensen said.
While programming grants have been a strong focus at the Ceramics Center, their history of receiving support spans the funding opportunities available through the Community Foundation. From capacity grant funding for database development and expansion to flood recovery grant dollars made when the center was starting, the Community Foundation has been with the Ceramics Center every step of the way.
“I don’t think the Ceramics Center would be where we are today without the support of the Community Foundation,” Jensen said. “Their support has allowed those areas (which were funded) to grow and has freed up resources for other areas of growth.”