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The County Endowment Fund Program: A Catalyst for Philanthropic Partnerships

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Community foundations in the eighty-five Iowa counties that do not hold a state issued gaming license are impacting their communities in more ways than one. As part of the County Endowment Fund Program, these countywide community foundations provide grants to charitable projects in all areas of community life: from daycare and housing assistance programs to support for local food initiatives; from community center expansions to river cleanup projects; from leadership development to equipment upgrades for fire and police departments.

Details from the third year of this program are outlined in a report recently released by the Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF) and the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) titled  "Building Iowa's Communities Through Philanthropy: A Snapshot of the 2007-2008 County Endowment Fund Program." This report provides an overview of the County Endowment Fund Program as well as specific grantmaking information for each of the counties involved. Information highlighted was compiled based on reports submitted to the ICoF and the Iowa Department of Economic Development by participating community foundations (beginning in August 2008).

The County Endowment Fund Program, funded by a percentage of the state's commercial casino gaming tax revenue, is helping these qualified community foundations serve as a catalyst for additional philanthropic giving to maximize impact in their communities. "Through Iowa community foundations our state has created a strong network to encourage and grow private, endowed contributions that will support our communities today and tomorrow. In just three short years, we have seen the assets of these 85 organizations alone grow from $16.6 million to more than $40 million. This growth is a testament to the community foundations' commitment to building strong foundations for our collective future- and this is only the beginning," said Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, Director of the Iowa Council of Foundations.

Some Highlights in the Report:

  • 1,731 grant awards were distributed by participating community foundations through the Program
  • Grant awards from the Program in the 85 counties totaled more than $5.1 million
  • The Program generated 2,631 grant applications seeking funding of approximately $13.5 million
  • Grants awarded were classified as 47% capital related with 53% focused on program aspects of projects

"Building Iowa's Communities Through Philanthropy: A Snapshot of the 2007-2008 County Endowment Fund Program" provides breakdowns for each of the 85 participating counties highlighting the grants awarded through the Program as well as general characteristics of the foundations. It is important to note that the County Endowment Fund Program serves as a catalyst to inspire many other sources of lifetime and planned gifts within each of the counties; it promotes effective philanthropy and will continue to make a positive impact for years to come. "It is truly inspiring to see the positive impact that the County Endowment Fund Program is making in our state," said Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association. "So many citizens are benefiting from the grants provided from these growing community foundations and everyone should be excited to see what the future holds for our state's charitable projects and programs."

Members of the media are also encouraged to contact their local community foundation representative to learn more about the impact of their community foundation and the County Endowment Fund Program.

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