Two recent events and a new study highlight the Community Foundation’s role as a convener and catalyst for change region-wide

Leaders from across the Greater Dubuque region, from Allamakee County in the north to Clinton County in the south, are connecting with one another to create more vibrant, resilient communities. The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque recently hosted two regional convenings, bringing together community leaders from seven counties to discuss shared needs and work toward solutions.

“Over the past year, the Community Foundation has been working to strengthen the bonds among our eight affiliate boards and tie communities more closely together,” said Nancy Van Milligen, Community Foundation president and CEO. “Addressing our common challenges and working together to strengthen our region is a step we are looking forward to taking as a group.”

Regional Roundtable: Shared Learning, Shared Solutions

The new Regional Roundtable convenes a diverse group of leaders from across the Greater Dubuque region to learn about the strengths and needs of rural communities. It’s an opportunity for these leaders to build relationships, gain knowledge and learn about resources that can help make the entire region more vibrant and welcoming, ultimately improving the quality of life for rural residents.

Thanks to a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, affiliate foundation chairs from Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson, Jones and Clinton Counties created teams of three to join the Roundtable. Each team included an affiliate foundation advisory board member or emeritus board member, an established community leader, and an emerging leader. Moving forward, biannual gatherings will focus on the common concerns leaders shared at the first meeting, such as building strong workforces and local economies, attracting and retaining young families, and being welcoming to newcomers.

“While attending the first Regional Roundtable this spring, we had the opportunity to connect with individuals from other counties and hear what their foundations are accomplishing,” said Lisa Guetzko, a team member representing the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County. “What I didn’t expect was to learn even more about how the Community Foundation can further support our efforts in our communities. From statistics to the latest in research, they can assist in bringing our goals to realization.”

Regional Readiness Summit: Equipping Our Communities to Respond to the Unexpected

From flooding to tornados, natural disasters are all too familiar in Northeast Iowa. That’s why emergency managers, volunteer coordinators and city officials gathered this spring to strategize and plan for future disasters, equipping their communities to respond quickly, efficiently and safely when disasters occur.

During the Regional Readiness Summit, hosted by the Community Foundation, leaders heard from experts in disaster preparedness and built relationships with professionals throughout the region. Through panels, small group sessions and networking, they shared ideas for recovery efforts and ways to leverage philanthropic resources to support initiatives that increase community resilience.

Attendees heard from representatives of communities who recently experienced disasters, such as flooding and tornadoes. They learned about strategic responses to low-attention disasters — those that lack press coverage and thus don’t garner sufficient fundraising or volunteerism — and effective mobilization of volunteers during a disaster. Speakers touched on how brain health is impacted in communities that have experienced natural disasters.

Participating counties in the Community Foundation’s service region were eligible for mini grants to help fund ideas sparked during the summit, supported by a grant from Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emerging Partnerships.

“No one knows when the next disaster will strike,” said Jenna Manders, knowledge management director at the Community Foundation. “Our goal with the summit was to help our region feel ready and equipped to respond to the unexpected. Many people talked about the need to identify partners in disaster preparation and having communications ready for volunteers and donations. We hope that if partners start taking these steps, our region will be better prepared to respond to disaster.”

Foundation Featured in Rural Philanthropic Analysis

The Community Foundation’s regional approach to addressing community needs helps present Northeast Iowa’s many small communities as a united region through which investments can make a significant impact.

In early May, Campbell University spotlighted this approach and the impact it can make in a rural philanthropic analysis case study featuring the Community Foundation. The report is part of a two-year study collecting and reporting data on philanthropic activity from across the country, illustrating a deep commitment to the future of rural communities and documenting how philanthropy and community can work together to support rural vitality.

The Community Foundation hosted three representatives from the study last fall, introducing them to staff and partners throughout the region.

“We’ve been working on our narrative and approach as being more regional in nature, and see that as the brass ring,” Foundation President and CEO Van Milligen says in the report. “In areas like ours, the communities are only as strong as the region, and vice versa. There’s real power in coming together.”