Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Announces Mount Vernon Community Betterment Funds

Published: March 9, 2023 | By: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | Category:

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has announced two new charitable funds that will benefit Mount Vernon, Iowa. The Mount Vernon Community Betterment Today Fund and the Mount Vernon Community Betterment Tomorrow Fund will make grants to nonprofit organizations serving the Mount Vernon community.

Established through a lead gift from Les and Katrina Garner, these funds will provide a permanent and flexible source of funding to help the community meet changing needs and take advantage of new opportunities. The Mount Vernon Community Betterment Today Fund is non-endowed, meaning its entire balance can be granted to meet current community needs. The Mount Vernon Community Betterment Tomorrow Fund is endowed, meaning it is invested for long-term growth and will provide a permanent source of funding to help meet future needs.

“Mount Vernon was very welcoming when we arrived in 1994, and we are pleased to call it home today,” the Garners said. “We’re hopeful that these funds act as a catalyst for community-based philanthropy that serves Mount Vernon for many years to come.”

Dr. Garner will retire this year from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation where he has been President & CEO since 2010. Prior to that he served as the President of Cornell College in Mount Vernon for 16 years. He and Katrina currently reside in Mount Vernon. “Katrina and I are pleased to be making this legacy gift in appreciation to the community that we call home,” said Garner.

Though the Garners made the lead gift, their hope is that the funds will provide a convenient option for those looking to support the community. All are invited to contribute to the funds.

“It’s sobering and inspiring to know these funds will live on in perpetuity for the benefit of our community,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Tom Wieseler. “This generous gift will be appreciated by our many community groups for generations to come.

The funds will be administered by a local committee, which is being assembled with a focus on representation from a wide range of constituencies in Mount Vernon. Details about grant eligibility, timeline, and award limits will be announced later this year.

Community Betterment Funds are a way for donors to support a specific community with flexible funding that can help meet the community’s changing needs. These are the first Community Betterment Funds established at the Community Foundation.

“This is a milestone—not just for Mount Vernon, but for all communities in Linn County,” said Michelle Beisker, Senior Vice President of Development. “Rural communities don’t always have access to significant philanthropic resources. Community Betterment Funds empower the residents of these communities to attract new investments and work toward a shared vision.”

For Mount Vernon, these funds may provide support for efforts often taken on by nonprofit organizations, like childcare, arts, literacy, youth development, and education.

“There are 947 towns in Iowa, and two thirds of those towns lost population in the last census,” Mayor Tom Wieseler said. “These funds will bolster our nonprofits and help attract new citizens to our community.”

Contributions to the new funds can be made online at :

Mount Vernon Community Betterment Today Fund 

Mount Vernon Community Betterment Tomorrow Fund 

Or checks can be mailed to: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, 324 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA  52401.

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