A $400,000 investment in rural Northeast Iowa communities

Nancy Van Milligen President & CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has received a $400,000 grant from the Trust for Civic Life that will deepen its role as a trusted convener, empowering community leaders and build the capacity of small towns to tackle pressing issues.

The Trust for Civic Life, a new philanthropic partnership, announced this week that it awarded one of its first grants to the Community Foundation as part of an $8 million investment into strengthening communities across rural America. In total, the Trust for Civic Life awarded 20 grants to innovative groups that are bringing people together to solve important problems in their communities.

With this grant, the Community Foundation will build on its two-decade history of community-building and developing philanthropic leaders in the seven-county Dubuque region. Through programs like Community Heart & Soul and the Small-town Dreams Initiative, the Foundation engages residents to work collaboratively toward building thriving, vibrant and welcoming communities.

“We are honored to receive this grant, because it is aligns with the work we have excelled at for over 20 years,” says Community Foundation President and CEO Nancy Van Milligen. “As a catalyst for addressing complex local challenges, we can leverage this generous funding to empower communities and bring people together to make a positive difference for our region.”

The grants support “civic hubs,” organizations like the Community Foundation that are helping residents meet the changing needs of their communities, at a time when Americans are pulling away from traditional civic life.

“The Trust for Civic Life’s new grantees are critical connectors and problem solvers in their communities. They are helping neighbors find common ground, solve local problems and improve the community for everyone in it,” says Charlie Brown, the Executive Director of Trust for Civic Life. “Community-led work is transforming American life for the better, and the Trust for Civic Life is proud to support its momentum with these new grants”

Over the next three years, the Community Foundation will use its grant funding to champion and develop effective local leaders and build the capacity of communities to identify and address issues through collaborative initiatives and philanthropy. Empowering communities in this way helps increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy.

“We really believe that the best people to build communities are the people that live there,” Van Milligen says. “We are proud to be a ‘civic hub’ for the Dubuque region, and we are excited to use this funding to deepen the impact of the work we and our community partners do day in, day out.“

The Trust for Civic Life was initiated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Stand Together and Omidyar Network, and has grown to include over a dozen philanthropists and foundations. The Trust’s first round of grants will support groups in rural areas, which are traditionally overlooked by national philanthropy. Despite accounting for 20% of U.S. residents and the vast majority of the nation's land, rural regions receive only 7% of U.S. philanthropic dollars every year.

The Trust will award its next set of grants later this year. These grants will support “civic entrepreneurs” – individuals or smaller groups leading experimental programs or introducing innovative projects in rural regions.

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