$50,000 grant will support childrens brain health, education and care


Jeff Danna 
Communications Manager 

For immediate release 

Education looks different today. Families are wondering how virtual learning and social isolation will compound other learning barriers and impact children in the long run.  

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque is addressing these issues and others that affect children’s well-being and has secured a $50,000 grant to support this work. Granted under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, funding from Mental Health/Disability Services of the East Central Region will support a new project aimed at deepening and promoting a community-wide commitment to social-emotional learning (SEL) and trauma-informed practices in Dubuque, Delaware and Jones Counties.  

“Our 2016 needs assessment revealed that many residents face barriers to opportunity, the biggest being access to brain health care and high-quality child care,” says Cynthia Wehrenberg, the Community Foundation’s youth impact coordinator. “We are so appreciative of this funding, because it addresses both of these barriers. It will enable us to launch a project to parents and direct care providers about how to address children’s brain health challenges.” 

The Community Foundation, through its Every Child Reads initiative and children’s brain health working group, will partner with St. Mark Youth Enrichment and the Dubuque Dream Center to shape a culture in which parents, schools and providers all understand and practice social-emotional and trauma-informed learning.  

The new funding will enable St. Mark and the Dream Center to more effectively deliver their SEL-informed services to families and students balancing work, safety and virtual schooling through the final quarter of 2020.  

Both St. Mark and the Dream Center have long histories of approaching learning through the lens of childhood trauma and adversity. St. Mark is recognized statewide for its summer and before- and after-school programs that teach self-regulation and engage families to maximize academic and social-emotional growth.  

The Dubuque Dream Center’s work to impact youth and strengthen families begins with In Your Life Mentoring, which provides a child with assets for  success in school and life. The program reaches youth through academics, activities, nutrition, character development and college and career prep.  

Grant funding will support St. Mark in providing new SEL training opportunities locally and statewide and the Dream Center with a “school connector” staff member providing 10 students with a year of In Your Life Mentoring.  

Funding will enable both nonprofits to collect data and share their findings with the Community Foundation’s children’s brain health working group, a network of more than 10 community partners that is drafting a vision for future SEL services in the Dubuque region. Funding will help the network expand on the success of St. Mark and the Dream Center by promoting their work and best practices to child care centers, schools, nonprofits and parents, and guiding a community-wide commitment to SEL and trauma-informed practices.  

“The Community Foundation will further help by connecting families with resources like these programs and others, and by hosting parent meetings in Dubuque, Jones and Delaware counties to share information and learn about families’ urgent needs,” says Wehrenberg. “We plan to launch a community-wide awareness campaign promoting the value of SEL and trauma-informed care to bring consistent messages about social-emotional well-being and resources to everyone who cares for children in our region.” 

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The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque envisions a vibrant and inclusive Dubuque region where everyone can thrive. Since 2002, we have inspired people to give back to their community, and we turn this generosity into lasting change across our region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed. 

Visit dbqfoundation.org to learn about the many ways we are building a strong, thriving Greater Dubuque for all.