The City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, and the Cedar Rapids Community School District announce a partnership with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to establish a fund to address inter-relational factors that lead to youth violence in Cedar Rapids as identified by the Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) Task Force. The Community Foundation will facilitate a competitive grantmaking process to help accomplish the identified goals.
The SET Task Force, established in 2016, has engaged multiple partners over a period of time including the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Cedar Rapids Community School District, nonprofit organizations and neighborhood groups. “This has been a process that has included a lot of community involvement and we expect to maintain the intentionality and collaboration of the original process,” said Karla Twedt-Ball, Senior Vice President, Programs and Community Investment at the Community Foundation.
In a report released in February 2017, the SET Task Force identified intersectional strategies to address systemic causes of youth violence, including safe and stable housing, improved educational outcomes and economic opportunities, and conflict resolution skills. In addition, the task force identified recommendations for various community partners that interact with area youth.
“We knew from the outset that addressing systemic poverty and youth violence was an ambitious endeavor,” said Stacey Walker, Linn County Supervisor and Co-Chair of the SET Task Force. “But we also understood the moral imperative of this work, so there was never any doubt that we would find a way to make meaningful progress on this initiative.”
Brad Hart, Mayor of the City of Cedar Rapids, said, “We are pleased with the process the Community Foundation has outlined. Having an objective process and facilitator will lead to solid funding decisions and high levels of credibility in the community.”
The Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities Fund held at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation will provide over $150,000 in grant funding in 2019 to organizations that are helping to accomplish the SET Task Force recommendations. Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids have each committed $100,000 to this effort. The Cedar Rapids Community School District has provided $25,000 in funding. The Community Foundation will engage nonprofit organizations, governmental bodies and community groups in identifying and developing promising grant applications.
The Community Foundation will provide facilitation of a policy committee and a grant committee. The committees will include diverse representatives of the community. The 11-member policy committee will help determine the process, desired outcomes, funding priorities, applications and scoring tools, and will evaluate the long-term achievement of goals. The 11-member grant committee will be responsible for reviewing applications and making funding recommendations according to the guidance provided by the policy committee. Committee members shall serve three-year terms.
The Community Foundation will hire a Program Officer to facilitate the grant application and distribution process of the Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities Fund. The Community Foundation is planning to make the first grants in 2019.
“Our community has identified some intervention points to help us create a safe and equitable environment for kids to live, grow and learn,” said Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District. “Each partner is making progress toward implementing SET Task Force recommendations, however, we feel this next phase will help to provide a sustained and focused effort.”
Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said, “Many organizations and individuals have come together to develop this plan, with the common goal of providing support and improving the lives of residents in our community. We hope the entire community will recognize the importance of this work and come together to support these efforts.”
Community members can support the Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities Fund held at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation by donating online at www.gcrcf.org or by mail to Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities Fund, 324 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.
In February 2016, the Cedar Rapids City Council formed the Safe, Equitable and Thriving (SET) Communities Task Force. Co-chaired by Dr. Mary Wilcynski and Stacey Walker, the 19-member task force was charged with identifying and addressing the roots of gun violence and poverty in the community. Based on a year of work involving six subcommittees — education, housing, public safety, economic opportunities, programming and community outreach — a final report of recommendations was released in February 2017 and can be found here: