Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving (SET) Communities Fund Awards Grants to Reduce Youth Violence

Published: January 13, 2020 | By: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | Category:

The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation recently approved over $123,000 in grants to seven nonprofit organizations from the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving (SET) Communities Fund. The Fund, established in October 2018 in partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and the Cedar Rapids Community School District, made over $160,000 in grants in 2019.

“There are many factors that lead to youth violence,” said Rachel Rockwell, Program Officer at the Community Foundation. “Some of our youth feel disconnected, so in response we’re taking a holistic approach. We’re looking to build connections and redesign systems to create a network of care for those impacted by violence.”

The SET Communities Fund was established to pursue the goals identified by the SET Task Force, chaired by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and Retired Cedar Rapids Community School District Principal Mary Wilcynski, which was created in response to a local rise in youth violence. The Task Force produced a report in 2017 which identified intersectional strategies to address systemic causes of youth violence, including safe and stable housing, economic opportunities, and improved educational outcomes.

The goal of the fund is to improve community safety through stronger economic, social and/or academic conditions for youth and neighborhoods.

“We do not pretend this is a cure all for everything,” said Dale Todd, City of Cedar Rapids Council Member, “but the fund provides a good foundation. There is momentum to the SET work as we learn about models that are working in other cities, develop and strengthen local partnerships, and build the bonds of trust to get us to the next level.”

The first SET Communities Fund grants were made in May for summer programming that engaged youth disproportionately affected by violence in their homes, neighborhoods and schools. The most recent grants seek to continue the process by supporting evidence-based programming.

“We held several planning sessions this fall to share ideas and foster connections,” Rachel said. Rachel joined the Community Foundation in 2019 to administer the SET Communities Fund and has an extensive background in youth and organizational development. “We want programs that involve our youth in the planning process, and bringing all of these voices together is key in a community-minded approach.”

The most recent SET Communities Fund grants include seven recipient organizations totaling $123,730 in funding. They include:


Organization Project Amount Awarded
African American Museum of Iowa AAMI Vision Project $17,400
Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Rapids Street SMART Teens $12,000
Big Bang Foundation


Cedar Rapids Lights On $9,920
Jane Boyd Community House and DREEAM Sports Project My City $21,320
LBA Foundation Professional Skills Class $7,150


Washington High School


Washington High School Mentors Program $25,940
Willis Dady Emergency Shelter


Youth Ambassador Program $30,000

“The grant committee reviewed 21 funding requests totaling $454,109,” says Staci Meade, Financial Management Director at Linn County Community Services. “We were excited to see strong applications that represented new partnerships in the community. We are hopeful about the balance of innovation and established evidence-based models. We wished we could have funded more.”

A complete list of grants made from the SET Communities Fund can be found here.

More information about the SET Communities Fund can be found here.

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