Building a strong foundation in Jones County


Cali Beals remembers the days in 2004 when she and other residents decided to lead the way toward a strong future for Jones County. Nearly 20 years later, the story of how the Jones County Community Foundation began continues to inspire leaders and generous people to make a positive difference.

New legislation had introduced the state’s County Endowment Fund Program, which distributes a percentage of gaming tax revenue to community foundations in the 84 counties that do not hold a state-issued gaming license. Foundations award 75% of those funds to charitable projects in their counties. Beals witnessed the impact of this new program firsthand as a community development specialist for the Iowa Department of Economic Development. “Since I lived in Jones County, I volunteered to help start a foundation here,” she says. “It was exciting and challenging.”

Joe Yedlik at Iowa State Extension and Outreach assisted with the startup, helping assemble volunteers from across the county to lead the organization and establish an application process for nonprofits to access the new funds. 

Beals served on the board until 2015. “I enjoyed making new friends and learned so much over the years,” she reflects. 

The Foundation has grown to hold $2.8 million in assets  for the benefit of the county. Last year, it awarded $117,067 in grants to local organizations that are addressing issues like education, food insecurity and more. “It was a personal goal of mine to get the permanent endowment to $1 million. I’m so proud that they’ve far surpassed that,” Beals says. “It’s comforting to know that this legacy will live on. I was blessed to be part of it.”