In 2020, the Community Foundation was looking for new ways to support emerging nonprofit organizations and advance racial equity in Linn County. As grassroots groups responded to the pandemic and derecho, an opportunity emerged to make progress on both goals simultaneously. In early 2021, the Thrive Cohort was launched to bring together Black, Brown, and Biracial nonprofit leaders for relationship-building, networking, and learning. The goal is to help nonprofit organizations close the racial leadership gap and diversify staff and managerial teams.
Five leaders of emerging organizations were selected to participate in the initial cohort, which met monthly for two years to engage in discussions and learning activities on a range of topics related to building nonprofit organizations. Local leaders served as guest facilitators, and each member’s organization received a quarterly $2,500 grant for general operating support. Many organizations use these grants for overhead, programming, and even educational costs for their leadership. The grants—and the sentiment behind them—were often transformational.
The inaugural Thrive Cohort discussed their experiences during a 2022 Community Learning Series, and you can view that event here.
To build on the work of the initial Thrive Cohort, a second cohort was put together in early 2023 with support from the Alliant Energy Foundation. Participation was opened to any person of color who works for or invests significant time and resources into a local nonprofit organization. The format remained largely the same, as participants heard from local leaders, subject matter experts, and elected officials. Each participant’s organization received a $2,500 grant to support their professional development.
2024 Thrive Cohort
The 2024 Thrive Cohort is currently being assembled. The 2024 Cohort is for Black, Brown, and Bi-racial professionals who work for or invest significant time and resources into a local nonprofit or grassroots organization. Eight to 12 participants will be selected. Eight monthly meetings will be held from March – November, 2024 (no meeting in July). Meetings will be held on the first Thursday of each month from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. The list of 2024 Thrive Cohort participants will be announced in February 2024.
2023 Thrive Cohort
Lisa Ambrose, Amani Community Services
Lori Ampey, Tanager/Boys and Girls Club of the Corridor
Megan Brown, Jane Boyd Community House/Four Oaks
LaNisha Cassell, African American Museum of Iowa
Benedicte Chubaka, Catherine McAuley Center
Erica Ernzen, The District
GeriVene’a Green, Manna Outreach and Resources
Cymone Green, The Academy for Scholastic & Personal Success/Washington High School
Ontariez Henderson, NewBo City Market
Ayoub Idriss, Catherine McAuley Center
Sherita Jenkins, Alzheimer’s Association
Lisa Jordan, Foundation 2
Rama Muzo, Intercultural Center of Iowa
Cierra Roquette, Area Substance Abuse Council
Denine Rushing, Willis Dady Homeless Services
Frankline Tshombe, The Power of Women and Children
Angelica Vannatta, United Way of East Central Iowa
Monique Washington, Waypoint Services
Lauren White, Willis Dady Homeless Services
Tonya Marie, Matthew 25