Racial Justice Fund grants support four additional groups

Next Level's Eighth Grade Basketball Team.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In late January, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine announced four more local nonprofit organizations would receive grants from the Racial Justice Fund. Next Level Basketball, UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital, Pathway of Hope in West Liberty, and the West Liberty Citizenship Program each seek to make Muscatine County a more equitable place through their different missions.

Founded in 2009, Next Level Basketball helps children in third through eighth grade prepare to play at the high school level and learn important life skills, such as the value of teamwork and value of respect. To help more low income kids, especially those of color, reap the benefits of playing on a Next Level team, directors Terrence Watson and Elva Leza-Watson plan to use the grant they received to offer more scholarships. As Leza-Watson put it, “as the program has grown, the need for scholarships has also increased, so the grant enables us to help those who want to play to be able to without financial burden.”

Next Level Basketball’s Eighth Grade Gold team.

Through educational campaigns, health screenings, and other events, UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital’s community relations department strives to help all area residents live healthier lives. As part of their work, they identify underserved populations and come up with solutions to get them needed healthcare. To further this work, the department will use their grant to hire a diversity program manager to help develop new programs, collaborate with community partners, and provide staff trainings. Diversity and Community Impact Officer Daniel Joiner, welcomes this opportunity. “It’s critical that we have the ability to meet with our community and take a targeted approach to meeting their needs,” he said.

COVID-19 care packages from UnityPoint to distribute to communities in need. The packages include hygiene and cleaning supplies, along with educational materials about COVID-19.

In fall of 2020, the Salvation Army of Muscatine County’s Pathway of Hope program expanded to West Liberty. Under the direction of Jacque McCoy, the program stabilizes individuals in crisis and helps them gain financial independence. To better serve non-English speakers, McCoy sought a interpreter for the program. Using her organization’s Racial Justice grant, McCoy looks forward to hiring Monica Lozano and helping her as she starts her own interpreting business. “I’m so excited and thankful for the community, and that they see the need to support programs like this,” stated McCoy.

Pathway of Hope Director Jacque McCoy with interpreter Monica Lozano.

Since 2017, the West Liberty Citizenship program has helped immigrants gain citizenship by teaching them English, preparing them for the civics exam, and paying for half the cost of their naturalization application. Using Racial Justice funding, one of the program’s leaders, Dan Stevenson, reports they will: “help pay for participants’ applications for naturalization. We have also earmarked some of the funds for operating costs for the program, things like white boards for practicing English skills.”

Dan Stevenson working in the polls in West Liberty while Rogelio Contreras, a recent graduate of the West Liberty Citizenship Program, votes as a US citizen for the first time