$600,000 in Leadership Grants Announced

Jan. 2, 2020 Leadership Grants

Through strategic Leadership Grants, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines plays a key role in providing significant funding to projects that strengthen Greater Des Moines by responding to community trends and opportunities.  Leadership Grants are funded through donations to the Better Together Fund. Donors to the Better Together Fund give to support community needs now and into the future as identified through the Community Foundation’s grantmaking process facilitated by the organization’s expert staff, Grantmaking Committee and board of directors. This round of Leadership Grants represents the largest cumulative amount of support provided through the Leadership Grant program. This milestone serves as a testament to the generosity of donors to the Better Together Fund and the strength of the nonprofit sector in our community. The Community Foundation announces support of the following four organizations with Leadership Grants:

Blank Park Zoo Foundation
A $25,000 Leadership Grant will support the construction of the ZooPlex Multipurpose Event Center. The new, climate-controlled 10,000 square-foot facility will allow for a variety of uses for year-round access, including: traveling exhibits, camp and educational facilities and an event space for rentals. This project is a cornerstone for the strategic expansion of the Zoo, and an opportunity to drive economic development on the southside of Des Moines. "Blank Park Zoo is incredibly grateful to the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines for their acknowledgement of what the new ZooPlex will mean to the future of the Zoo,” says Anne Shimerdla, president and chief operating officer of Blank Park Zoo. “A climate controlled building will mean the possibility of traveling exhibits, winter activities for youth, expanded activities for Summer Safari, education/conservation programming and an incredible rental venue for the Des Moines community. We are thankful for the support." 

Easterseals Iowa
A $75,000 Leadership Grant will support the building of a new, enhanced Child Development Center at Easterseals’ Camp Sunnyside. The project will enable the organization to double enrollment and serve more families who receive childcare assistance – addressing a critical need in our community. Easterseals Iowa provides high-quality care in an inclusive environment where children both with and without disabilities can thrive. "All of us at Easterseals Iowa are so incredibly grateful for the generous support of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines in building our new Child Development Center. The new center will allow us to double our capacity of programming for children with and without disabilities and allow us to serve more families utilizing state childcare assistance,” says Sherri Nielsen, Easterseals Iowa president and CEO. “The Child Development Center is a step in the right direction in addressing the shortage of licensed and quality childcare in the Des Moines area."

Great Outdoors Foundation
A $250,000 Leadership Grant will support the Central Iowa Water Trails project. With over 150 miles of water trails and over 86 access sites, Central Iowa Water Trails looks to reconnect Iowans with our river roots. The project intends to drive economic development, workforce and tourism goals – as well as address water quality and river utilization in new ways. “The Central Iowa Water Trails project will be a game changer for Central Iowa for not only our generation, but for generations to come,” shares Hannah Inman, CEO of the Great Outdoors Foundation. “A project of this magnitude would not be possible without the validating support of the Community Foundation. This Leadership Grant changes the conversation around the project from if to when. We could not be more grateful for the support.”

Orchard Place
A $250,000 Leadership Grant will support in the development of Reach Out Youth: Mental Health Crisis Solutions for Kids, a children's crisis mobile team and crisis hotline serving Polk County. Currently, local families with children in need of crisis intervention must rely on emergency rooms and law enforcement. This new model is a collective effort of numerous organizations and is designed to offer consistent access to early and effective intervention resources including a 24-hour crisis line and accompanying crisis-stabilization team. “The Leadership Grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines supports and validates the work conducted by Orchard Place and our partners,” said Anne Starr, chief executive officer of Orchard Place.  “Thanks to this grant, we continue to move forward making crisis services a reality for thousands of children in every corner of our community.”