On June 21, SET Program Officer Rachel Rockwell was honored by the Cedar Rapids Gazette as one of the HER Women of Achievement. This award recognizes Rachel’s leadership, drive, and dedication.
Rachel joined the Community Foundation in 2019 to oversee the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Fund, which aims to reduce youth violence in Cedar Rapids. With a background in community organizing and nonprofit development, she stepped into this challenging new role with determination.
“Overseeing the SET Fund is no easy task,” said Karla Twedt-Ball, Senior Vice President, Programs and Community Investment. “But Rachel’s innovative and collaborative mindset has enabled the fund to make huge strides in its first few years.”
The SET Fund, held at the Community Foundation, is a joint effort between the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, and the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Since 2019, the fund has granted more than $400,000 to 21 local programs and projects that engage, inspire, and uplift our youth.
Perhaps most impressive is Rachel’s success in bringing nationally recognized, evidence-based solutions to Cedar Rapids. In 2020, Rachel secured a $465,000 grant from an anonymous donor to increase the available grant funding and support a partnership with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC). With support from the NNSC, SET Fund grantees are implementing the Group Violence Intervention model, which has successfully reduced violence in several major cities across the U.S.
At the same time, Rachel was adapting the fund’s approach due to the pandemic. With school and in-person programming disrupted, more and more youth were engaging in violent behaviors. By summer of 2020, Rachel and a group of volunteers had launched ReSET 2020, which used safe and personalized methods for supporting 60 local families that were at highest risk for violent victimization.
“I cannot think of a better candidate for this award,” said Les Garner, Community Foundation President & CEO. “In just the last two years, Rachel has done more for her community than many would think possible. Her work has brought hope and investment to the community, and she has impacted the lives of countless families.”