Impact Across Our Region

The Story of Our Affiliate Foundations

This story is part of our Transforming Together series, which highlights 20 key moments in our Foundation’s first 20 years. Read more stories in the series.

In our rural region, supporting neighbors is a way of life. Whether sharing winning recipes for a successful fundraiser or pitching in to unload a food pantry delivery, caring citizens are used to stepping up. They share common values like generosity, ingenuity and effort.

The Community Foundation’s affiliate structure is rooted in this spirit. Across seven counties, we partner with eight local foundations building relationships and working together to address what matters most in rural towns and counties. Through these networks, we’ve created the framework for small-town residents to rise to the challenges of the day and chart their own path toward a stronger future for their communities.

The challenges our region faces can be complex,” says MJ Smith, senior affiliate advisor for the Community Foundation. “Tackling them requires working collaboratively across differences. In rural regions, this work comes naturally. We are neighbors above all else, and we do what it takes to make our home a better place.”

The Clayton County Foundation for the Future became the first affiliate foundation in 2008. In subsequent years, more foundations representing Allamakee, Clinton, Delaware, Jackson and Jones counties, as well as the Dyersville area in western Dubuque County, followed. The LincolnWay Community Foundation in rural Clinton County and the River Bluff Community Foundation in the city of Clinton became the most recent affiliates in 2016.

“It’s helpful to know that, for the most part, the challenges we face in our county are the same as those faced by our peer affiliates,” says Brenda Gannon, a LincolnWay Community Foundation board member. “Having that support makes the difference between moving forward and standing still.”

Affiliate foundations are vehicles for community philanthropy. They are points of pride for people who want to give back to their communities and address issues that will make a difference for generations to come. Today, our affiliate foundations host more than 200 endowment funds that pay out millions of dollars annually to support nonprofits improving the quality of life for local residents. In fact, one-third of the Community Foundation’s assets are held in affiliate foundation funds.

“Ultimately, rural communities own their futures,” says Sheila Tjaden, director of affiliate foundations for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “They understand what issues must be addressed and how to build local support and funding to make their dreams reality. In the Foundation they have a partner that provides financial expertise, working models and technical know-how in community building.”

Learn more about our affiliates