Making Our Community ‘Better’ Through Partnerships

The C&B Better Initiative grant program is an example of how the Community Foundation partners with local businesses to strengthen nonprofits.

For 137 years, the Cottingham & Butler insurance broker has been a fixture of Dubuque, growing with the community, employing its people, and looking out for its well-being. The people of C&B have also made giving back and supporting nonprofits a priority, which has led to their first people-powered grant program, C&B Better Initiative, a partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

“We are rooted in Dubuque, and we want to ensure that the people who have helped us thrive can also thrive,” says Lauren Czeshinski, senior marketing consultant for C&B. “By partnering with the Community Foundation to offer the C&B Better Initiative grant program, we can tap into the Foundation’s grantmaking experience to help address critical issues in our hometown.”

Launched in 2021, the C&B Better Initiative is one example of the way the Foundation partners with local businesses whose missions, visions and values align with its own to support nonprofits and tackle critical issues.

Each quarter of the year, organizations located in or serving the people of Dubuque are invited to submit grant requests that members of C&B Better Initiative review. Then, the top three organizations are invited to speak to the group where they choose a grantee. The recipient receives a one-time grant that supports their work in the community.

Preference is given to organizations that prioritize one or more of the following criteria:

  • Committed to bettering lives through promoting health, education, and financial wellness.
  • Eliminating barriers and ensuring access to various resources.
  • Building awareness, eliminating stigmas, and changing mindsets.
  • Neighborhood safety and revitalization.
  • Fostering positive relationships between individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.

Since launching, the team members who are part of the C&B Better Initiative have made over $140,000 in grants to 13 organizations, benefitting projects that support children with cancer, victims of domestic abuse, local families, and more.

“We are proud to work in a community with so many generous people and organizations,” says Mary Jo Jean-Francois, vice president of impact at the Community Foundation. “Partnering with businesses like Cottingham & Butler helps deepen our impact, strengthens nonprofits, and fosters a culture of giving across the Dubuque region.”

The Foundation’s has a long history of working with businesses on an array of corporate giving opportunities. For example, the Theisen’s More for Your Community Grant Program is a partnership with Theisen’s Home*Farm*Auto that helps address the basic needs of people across Iowa and parts of Wisconsin. Theisen’s promotes the program in its store communities and awards grants, while the Foundation provides back-office support, such as processing gifts to the program’s fund and reviewing grant applications.

Many businesses also sponsor Great Give Day, the Foundation’s annual 24-hour, online giving event, with their contributions going directly to participating nonprofits in the form of bonus prizes. Others work with the Foundation to establish employee giving programs through which companies match workers’ gifts to nonprofits, and employee assistance programs that support workers experiencing personal hardship, such as a death in the family.

For C&B, team members starting their own grant program with the Foundation was a way to live their values and strengthen the community they call home.

“Our team members have always embodied the spirit of giving back to the community, which has fostered a culture of philanthropy within our organization,” says Cris Houlihan, C&B vice president, Transportation Group. “We intend to honor our mantra of ‘better every day’ by partnering with nonprofit initiatives to build better communities through this grant program.”

C&B Better Initiative applications are due quarterly, opening on the first day and closing on the last day of February, May and August. Organizations that are named runners up in each of the first three quarters will be up for funding again in the fourth quarter without competition from newly submitted applicants. Click here to learn more or apply.