MUSCATINE, Iowa–The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine announced the most recent recipients of the Racial Justice Grant, the Diversity Service Center of Iowa and West Liberty High School Band. The Racial Justice Fund, established earlier this year, further advances racial justice, equity, and inclusion in Muscatine and Louisa Counties. Granting funds go to qualified charitable organizations whose work acts as an accelerator or reduces barriers towards racial justice, centered on those most marginalized in our service area.
The Diversity Service Center of Iowa
The Diversity Service Center of Iowa, founded in 2001 by five Latino members of the Muscatine community, assists families with the immigration process and advocates for senior citizens ages 60 and up. DSCI works to improve the quality of life through economic development by providing education, information, and social services.
DSCI plans to use the funds for the Minority Senior Program, which assists seniors with the retirement process, housing, financial supports, health, immigration, and US citizenship. Rosa Mendoza, Executive Director at the Diversity Service Center of Iowa stated: “we advocate for our constituents. Through information and services, we help them through their processes from the very beginning with whatever benefit they are applying for. The population we provide services to has language barriers, lack of knowledge of how the systems work, and the inability to access a computer to
apply for the services needed. This grant will give us an opportunity extend our hours that we provide the service.“
West Liberty High School Band
The West Liberty High School Band has served the community since its inception in 1938. The music program plans to use the grant to create the Los Cometas Mariachi band. Funding will allow for students of any socioeconomic status to participate in the program by funding all necessary instruments, instruction, and sheet music. This will also allow them to hire local community musicians from West Liberty and Muscatine to assist in teaching lessons and rehearsals, enabling them to uplift Latinx voices and maintain the integrity and authenticity of the mariachi tradition.
West Liberty represents the first majority Hispanic town in the state of Iowa, and their school district features the second K-12 dual-language program in the state. This program will offer equity in access to the materials and instructions needed for participation in a school mariachi ensemble. Everyone in the community will expand their understanding of and respect for the Mexican culture.
“Adding a mariachi component to our instrumental music programs is one strategy to improve the equity within the programs,” stated Ashley Smith, the Director of Bands at West Liberty High School. “This will help increase participation in music for students and families that are not being served by our music education ensembles.”
To learn more, donate, or to apply for funding for a racial justice project, please visit https://www.muscatinecommunityfoundation.org/racial-justice-fund or call 563-264-3863.