Enhancing Rural Vitality TOGETHER.

Our Small-town Dreams Initiative

Communities across our seven-county region have accepted the challenge from a generous supporter to raise matching funds and build endowments for the future.

Born and raised in Manchester, Iowa, Julie Frick (pictured second from left) always loved her community, and a family tragedy spurred her to channel that love into positive action. After a serious accident left her son a quadriplegic, she felt so much “love, support, generosity and outpouring from the community” that she wanted to give back.

“I really believe in the town,” she says. Today, she is the volunteer chair of the Manchester Vitality Endowment team. They are helping Manchester, a town of 5,000 people in Delaware County, build a fund that will support community vitality for generations to come.

The Community Foundation’s Small-town Dreams Initiative is helping Manchester and towns across the Dubuque region build capacity to address future challenges and opportunities. These high-performing, self-determined communities were selected to leverage $100,000 challenge grants from an anonymous donor to build a $450,000 endowment that will pay out every year to support community building efforts. The process also builds leadership capacity and engages the whole community in assessing and responding to needs.


“As we reflect on the 20th year of the Community Foundation, we made an early commitment to ‘the greater’ Dubuque region,” says MJ Smith, senior affiliate advisor. “We started advisory boards in seven counties to help build endowments and provide strategic grantmaking. Our next phase is to build strong, vibrant rural communities.”

Manchester is experiencing the benefits of the Small-town Dreams Initiative. An initial survey received over 300 responses from residents expressing what they would like to see in their community. From there, the Manchester Vitality leadership team narrowed the focus to enhancing the downtown by making it more welcoming.

To kick off the effort, the Manchester team drew on early dollars to hang flower baskets throughout the downtown, something the city has wanted to do but couldn’t due to lack of funding. Larger grants to tackle community issues are on the horizon.

That ease of fundraising speaks to the passion many rural residents have for their communities. Through the Small-town Dreams Initiative, the Foundation helps towns channel that passion to create vitality and achieve what is important to them. “This is an endeavor that leaves a lasting mark,” says MJ. “It’s a way to bless the whole community’s future.”

Here for you. MJ Smith Senior Affiliate Advisor mj@dbqfoundation.org 563-588-2700