Iowa Community Foundations Initiative

Since 2004, the ICoF has been designated as the  state's Lead Philanthropic Entity.  In this role, we are proud to partner with the Iowa Economic Development Authority on two legislated programs that impact community foundations in our state:  the County Endowment Fund Program and the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program.  To that end, the Iowa Community Foundations Initiative has become a core program area for the ICoF. The Iowa Community Foundations Initiative  supports the network of community foundations and affiliate community foundations across the state. Community foundations play a unique role within the nonprofit sector. They are:

  • Grantmakers, supporting a wide range of community needs- education, health, human services, and more
  • Local giving vehicles, establishing and hold numerous funds for a variety of charitable purposes
  • Community leaders and conveners, acting as community catalysts focusing on long-term endowment building and sustainability
Iowa currently has more than 130 community foundations and a well-respected, effective network which continues to propel the state as a national leader in the community foundation field. The majority of Iowa-based community foundations are operated by active volunteers in local communities (referred to as affiliate community foundations) that work with one of 13 qualified* or host community foundations that serves as the legal and administrative hub for the local organization. 

*Confirmed by the national Council on Foundations as being in compliance with National Standards
for U.S. Community Foundations.


ICoF Statewide Funder Coalition on Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

In 2014, ICoF launched a statewide funder coalition on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading   (GLR Campaign) for Iowa funders interested in bringing the Campaign into their local communities. This three-year, grant-funded project, builds off a co-funding investigation project in which members of ICoF Education Funders Network selected the GLR Campaign as their focus area for collaborative work. Click here to read the Ed Funders Report.

At the end of the three-year project, the goal is to double the number of GLR Campaign communities in Iowa - ultimately leading to improved grade-level reading proficiency scores among low-income students. 

All ICoF members are encouraged to consider sharing the Campaign in their local communities! 

Interested in bringing the GLR Campaign into your community?

For more information, please contact Kari McCann, ICoF President: 515.989.1188.

Current ICoF members, please visit the Member's Only section of this website for additional GLR Campaign Resources, news, and more!

Foundation Openness User Experience Cohort

Funders are problem solvers. We spend time, energy and resources working to solve problems in our communities. Unfortunately, we sometimes spend time, energy and resources trying to solve the WRONG problems. In those cases we not only divert resources, but we also diminish motivation to solve tough problems. Often our misunderstanding of the problem has to do with the voices we're listening to, the assumptions we bring to those conversations and the analysis tools we use. One way we can change this scenario is by increasing openness in the funder-applicant relationship. Practicing openness helps funders ensure that we have people at the table who understand (and have experienced firsthand) the problems we seek to solve. Openness also invites innovators who may have new solutions. More strategically stated, the purpose of increasing foundation openness is to align funder dollars and community needs in ways that deliver more effective solutions.

Now, more than ever, funders must work to create equitable processes for grant applicants. In turn, grantees must ensure programs are equitable for constituents. But what is foundation openness? What does it look like at different types of foundations? Do all potential applicants understand funder messages and practices of openness? What do funders have to do to be seen as open to different types of applicants? How might openness practices change our organizational strategy? 

The Iowa Council of Foundation is inviting members to join a special peer learning experience to explore - and practice - foundation openness. During this two-year opportunity we'll be using a new set of tools imported from the tech sector. We'll be drawing resources from the domain of User Experience (UX) into philanthropy.

Logistics for Year 1:
  • Three face-to-face meetings.
  • Homework between meetings: For example: Read an article, watch a webinar, interview an applicant in your community.
  • Experimentation in your organization. Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Share your learning with your colleagues at the end of year one.
  • Additional resources

Please complete this application by March 10. We will notify cohort participants of next steps by March 31.