In October 2018, the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and the Cedar Rapids Community School District announced 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. The fund will make grants in pursuit of the recommendations made by the Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) Task Force. Karla Twedt-Ball, the Community Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Programs and Community Investment, shares what brought this partnership about, what role the Community Foundation will play, and what all of this means for Cedar Rapids.
What are the goals of the task force?
The task force was formed to address systemic causes of youth violence in the Cedar Rapids area. The group investigated the current state of our community and explored solutions to youth violence. They conducted interviews with youth and other community members, consulted experts, reviewed data and developed recommendations. The goal is to move this community toward a safer, more equitable and thriving society.
What recommendations did they make?
The report includes recommendations that target improved economic opportunity, educational success, safe and affordable housing, supportive law enforcement practices and improved access to youth programming and other health and human services. These all need to be reinforced by improved relationships and intercultural competencies throughout our community.
How did the Community Foundation get involved?
Earlier this year the task force asked the Community Foundation to help facilitate a competitive grantmaking process focused on accomplishing the identified goals. Because we are a funder with extensive grantmaking experience, we have the aptitude and know-how to administer the funding. It makes sense that we’re involved.
How will it work?
Contributions designated by the City, County and School District, along with any donations from the community, will go into a new fund at the Community Foundation called the Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities Fund. We will provide facilitation of two committees – one to establish process and desired outcomes and one to review grant applications and make funding recommendations. Because our current Program Officers are at capacity at the Community Foundation, we’re adding a part-time Program Officer to manage the process and implement the grantmaking from this fund.
What will the grant application process look like?
We will have one primary funding cycle per year for a minimum of three years, and we may also accept more targeted applications to address specific circumstances. We will grant at least $160,000 each year to nonprofits and other eligible applicants. We hope to offer some grants targeting summer programming in the spring of 2019, with the primary grant cycle to occur in the fall.
What kinds of programs and projects are eligible to apply for grants from this fund?
Exact criteria are still being decided on, but the goal of all grantmaking from this fund will be to make our community safe, equitable and thriving. We hope to receive applications for programs and projects that work to eliminate the root causes of youth violence in our community.
How can community members get involved in this effort?
If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading the Task Force recommendations report located on the City of Cedar Rapids website to learn, be knowledgeable and be willing to have authentic conversations about the issues that face our community. I would also suggest volunteering and being involved with nonprofit organizations that are providing important services. You can also donate to this Fund so we can support organizations that are addressing our community’s