Investing in the future of Jackson County

Submitted by Darwin Schipper, Community Foundation of Jackson County Board Emeritus

I grew up in a small community where my parents were very active, and their example taught me the value of giving back. When they died, it was up to me to ensure their philanthropic wishes were accomplished – supporting causes they cared most about, like their church, the library, veterans and emergency medical services. I knew I wanted to be able to do the same in my own life, which led me to the Community Foundation of Jackson County

I served on the Community Foundation’s board from 2012 to 2019. In that time, we made grants to many wonderful organizations. I’m particularly proud of the long-term commitments we made to Jackson County communities – most recently Together We Build for Jackson County Extension.

Since 2012, the Foundation has granted $5.2 million to local nonprofits. More than 450 children have received eye exams and 281 have been given prescription glasses through Vision To Learn, an initiative the Foundation supports. In the last five years, the Foundation’s scholarships have provided 310 students with nearly $590,000 to support their education and success. 

While the effects of the pandemic continue, we see even more clearly the crucial role the Foundation plays. When COVID-19 began impacting nonprofits and families in Jackson County, the Foundation immediately launched a disaster recovery fund with its own initial gift of $10,000. Today, the Foundation has awarded $35,000 to 20 nonprofits working on the frontlines of the pandemic to help feed families, educate children, and keep Jackson County residents - our neighbors, family and friends - safe and healthy. 

All the Foundation’s work is extremely vital. The commitment of one special person, Mary Jo Gothard, has been the cornerstone of our success since she became executive director in 2013. Mary Jo truly cares for the people of Jackson County and has dedicated herself to improving our communities for all who live here. She will retire this year, and the board has selected a strong replacement in Lori Loch. To ensure the Foundation can continue to grow its important mission, we are focused on building financial support to keep the momentum going as Mary Jo passes the baton to Lori.

Investing in the Community Foundation of Jackson County is an investment in our communities, our youth, and our future. Our community has demonstrated its generosity many times, and I am confident that with your help, we will ensure the Foundation can continue to support local nonprofits and strengthen our Jackson County communities – forever. 

Gifts of $50 or more to our endowment are eligible for the generous 25% Endow Iowa State Tax Credit. Make your impact on the future of Jackson County online, or mail your gift to the Community Foundation of Jackson County at PO Box 645, Maquoketa, IA 52060.