Help Iowa groups grow our communities through thriving community

The Des Moines Register has published several articles this year examining the challenges families in Iowa face in finding affordable, high-quality child care.

The challenges are even greater in finding appropriate care if your child has special needs.

For families in the Iowa City area, the Arc of Southeast Iowa can help. It operates an inclusive child care program serving children with and without special needs.

The program now serves 30 children, but many more are on a waiting list. The Arc therefore plans to more than double the program, to serve approximately 70 children and to raise funds to expand its facilities.

One way to do this is through A Community Thrives, a grantmaking and crowdfunding initiative of the Gannett Foundation, sponsored by the Des Moines Register’s parent company, Gannett.

Emily Haworth's 3-year-old son, Nolan, who has special needs, has been attending the Iowa City-based Arc of Southeast Iowa for two years.  She says:

The program is designed to be a convenient way for our readers to support local nonprofits, schools, and civic organizations that do important work to strengthen our communities.

Previously:A community thrives: Here’s a way to help hard-working groups grow your community

This year, 17 organizations across Iowa, including The Arc, qualified to participate in the fundraising portion of A Community Thrives. You can learn more about these organizations and the work they do and donate at (Filter for “Iowa.”) Fundraising began July 18 and continues through August 12.

All participating organizations will keep the crowdfunding money they raise on their individual Community Thrives pages. Participants who meet the fundraising thresholds – of at least $3,000 in eligible donations for small organizations and $6,000 for large organizations – are eligible for grants, which will be announced this fall. Last year, A Community Thrivs awarded $35,000 in grants to organizations in Iowa.

A community flourishes.

This year’s participants reflect efforts to meet the current and emerging needs of our communities as well as to uplift the human spirit.

After:Your Donations Through A Community Thrives Help Iowa Nonprofits Fill Crucial Funding Gaps

One of the organizations participating for the first time is the United Upper Nile South Sudanese Community Association in Iowa, which seeks to help refugees from the war-torn country build a better life in Iowa. The association operates a food pantry in Des Moines that serves approximately 120 families per month. Inflation has made it even more difficult for the association’s clients to feed their families.

Another new entrant, Shalom Community Impact Center, based in Urbandale, also serves refugees and immigrants, including families from Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Afghanistan. Among other services, the center offers English and computer classes and works with children on reading and math.

This year, other participating organizations are focusing on helping people find affordable housing. Home Allies of Ames, a new entrant, is raising funds to build and operate a small apartment complex for people with very low or no income. Family Promise of Greater Des Moines and Shelter House of Iowa City also focus on shelter and housing.

A former Story County supervisor has founded a new affordable housing development group, Home Allies, and is planning a new apartment complex for people at risk of homelessness.

While many participating organizations are meeting basic needs – food, shelter, healthcare, education – others aspire to ensure that more Iowans can enjoy enriching musical and visual experiences. For example, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City offers residencies for artists of color, who in turn lead youth workshops and other adult programs.

After:How Gannett’s A Community Thrives Program Helped Girl Scouts in Greater Iowa

The Central Iowa Wind Ensemble and the Civic Music Association have long held concerts in the Des Moines metro. The Wind Ensemble plans to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa on a project combining music and visual arts. Students will be asked to develop artwork reflecting a Halloween theme, which will be featured in a video during the ensemble’s Halloween-themed concert on October 30.

These organizations do impressive work to help edify individuals, families and our communities. I encourage you to visit, learn more about their work, and donate to a business you care about.

Carol Hunter is the Register’s editor. She wants to hear your questions, story ideas or concerns at 515-284-8545, [email protected], or on Twitter: @carolhunter.

Iowa Organizations Participating in A Community Thrivs

Visit to contribute to these organizations during the fundraising period (until August 12).

  • Central Iowa Wind Ensemble, Ankeny
  • Civic Music Association, Des Moines
  • Community Health Resources, Bettendorf
  • Everyone wins! Iowa, Des Moines
  • Greater Des Moines Family Promise, Des Moines
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, Urbandale
  • Highland Park Community Development Association Inc., Des Moines
  • Home Allies Inc., Ames
  • Iowa Service Dogs, West Des Moines
  • Living Kingdom Iowa, Des Moines
  • Martha’s House of Hope, Ames
  • Shalom Community Impact Centre, Urbandale
  • Shelter House, Iowa City
  • The Southeast Iowa Arc, Iowa City
  • Center for Afrofuturist Studies, Iowa City
  • United Upper Nile South Sudanese Community Association in Iowa, Des Moines
  • YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines

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