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Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine: Twenty Years of Success and More to Come

Community Foundation of Greater Muscatinehttps://www.muscatinecommunityfoundation.org/
The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine is a community-wide, county-wide charitable organization actively working to improve the quality of life in Muscatine County through philanthropy. For more information about applying for grants or establishing your own fund for granting purposes, call the Community Foundation at 563-264-3863 or visit the website at www.muscatinecommunityfoundation.org.

Muscatine Living

The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine (Community Foundation) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It has been quite a success story!

Dick Maeglin brought the idea to our community, and Jim Nepple provided the initial office space and leadership. It has been a true community partnership of stewardship and love.

The Community Foundation family is an uncommon collection of leaders, visionaries, and friends sharing time and treasures to inspire and shape our communities’ future. You know them. They are young and old, craftsmen and shop owners, moms and dads, daughters and sons. They are students and educators, health-filled and health disadvantaged, musicians and artists. The sheer beauty of the Community Foundation is the vast variety of its contributors. There is no mold conformed to in make-up or thought, bringing similar and dissimilar beliefs and passions together, creating a singular inter-drive to strengthen our communities today while inspiring our tomorrows.

As we close out our anniversary year, we thought it appropriate to answer a few questions we frequently receive:

What Does the Community Foundation Really Do?

We are community builders and we do that in two ways. First, we serve as a community leader, collaborator, and connector to help address community priorities. Second, we marshal resources and deploy capital by providing grants to support nonprofits, charitable activities, and scholarships in the community. Additionally, we work with donors, both businesses and individuals, to make contributions to the causes they care most about.

Who is Our Current Leadership?

  • Bob Barrett, Mayor of Wilton
  • Naomi DeWinter, President, Muscatine Community College
  • Bob Jensen, President, Temp Associates and RJK Inc.
  • Angie Johnson, Executive Director, Unity Point – Trinity Muscatine
  • Cindy Mays, Market President, MidWest One Bank, West Liberty
  • Brett Nelson, General Manager, Musco Sports Lighting
  • Keith Porter, President, Stanley Center for Peace and Security
  • Jody Royal-Goodwin, Community Development Director, City of Muscatine
  • Jim Stein, Chairman Emeritus, Central Bancshares, Inc.
  • Jessica Susie, Attorney, Brick Gentry, P.C.
  • Brian Trego, Vice President, HON Co.
  • Mike Wilson, Vice President, First National Bank of Muscatine

How Big is Your Foundation?

We have grown a lot in size, friends, and impact. Last summer, we were $24 million in assets. As it sits today, we are over $48 million in assets. To give you a bit more perspective, ten years ago we were at $4 million in assets.

As we discuss our asset growth, it is important to recognize we do that through a growing number of people, businesses, and organizations opening an array of charitable funds. We have more than doubled the number of funds we manage in the just the last five years. Today, we have over 250 different funds providing resources to an array of charitable activities.

Size matters in a foundation such as ours, because the larger we are, the more we can positively impact our community through granting and leadership. However, we know growth is not enough to show a sound organization. One measure we track is our expenses in comparison to our size. We benchmark against community foundations across the country. To give you some insight, a foundation of our size would expect to have expenses equal to 1.51% of our assets. We are trending at less than 1%. This serves as another solid reflection of the way we steward our operations.

What Do Your Investment Returns Look Like?

We think it is better to look at trends, and over the last ten years, the return on our invested funds has averaged from 6 to 9.5%, depending on the balance of fixed income to equity investment ratio. For short-term money, we have a solely fixed asset portfolio in place.

The majority of our investments over the last ten years, for each $1 invested, would have earned on average seven cents each year, and we typically charge a penny for our services. So, each charitable dollar grew on average 6% a year, leading to larger charitable gifts.

More than a quarter of our funds are endowed, creating support for the important initiatives this year and every year, virtually forever. As has been said, “these dollars serve at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

This investment management is provided by local volunteer experts:

  • Mel McMains, Retired Vice President, HNI Corporation
  • Scott Ingstad, President, First National Bank of Muscatine
  • Angie Johnson, Executive Director, Unity Point Health – Trinity Muscatine
  • David Jones, Chief Financial Officer, Kent Corporation
  • Bob Sheets, Retired Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Investment
  • Jim Stein, Chairman Emeritus, Central Bancshares, Inc.
  • Mike Wilson, Vice President, First National Bank of Muscatine

Are You Accredited?

Yes. We are accredited by the National Council of Foundations through an on-going rigorous review. It is a seal of continued approval that we operate at the highest standards. We also have annual audits performed by external auditors reviewing our financial standards and internal controls.

Tell Us About Your Granting:

In one year, we granted $1.7 million dollars back into our county. Our discretionary competitive granting in the amount of over $400,000 included nearly eighty grants last year in Muscatine County and seventy grants in Louisa County, through our affiliate Louisa County Community Foundation.

Muscatine Community College partnered with us to utilize the online scholarship portal, granting $300,000+ through their Foundation. Between us and them, we awarded over $700,000 in scholarships this past year. Our average student scholarship award was $3,000. Impressively, over $800,000 was granted out of our individual donors’ funds to charitable activities

Do You Also Receive Grants?

We believe serving as a fiscal agent to receive grants is a strategic path to increasing charitable dollars available to our community. Our Board of Directors has been in discussion about how our funding and work could be more systemic across platforms.

How Do You Get the Most Value Out of Every Dollar You Spend?

There are two viable paths, namely, we can increase funding or decrease need. One example of such conversation occurred after the Community Foundation and its partners helped provide funding for area food backpack programs for hungry children, when, at a Springboard meeting, the conversation turned to how can we be more strategic in impacting the children’s future. We know they can’t fill their head with empty stomachs.

We applied and were one of thirteen organizations awarded a Future Ready Iowa grant by Governor Kim Reynolds. This grant is helping fund an innovative collective pilot with Trinity Public Health, Muscatine Community College, the City of Muscatine, MCSA, Aligned Impact Muscatine, and United Way.

With this collaboration of organizations and work, we are collectively targeting the families of children receiving food backpacks as well as addressing emergent issues. Such issues include getting a custodial parent advanced education through compressed six-week welding, CNC, or CNA certificate programs. (Many say that “time is money,” whereas for those in poverty, time is a luxury of money.) This includes the navigator staying connected with the employer and the employee for the first six months of employment to address unforeseen barriers. In the end, we will create an upskilled workforce in our community that models strong educational habits in stabilized homes.

We also have received two grants from the Iowa Council of Foundations in support of advancing our charitable work in the last year.

Do You Have a Youth Focus?

We are advancing our focus on growing benevolent youth, the emerging voices of our community. We are beginning a Youth Philanthropic Leadership Program for high school students, including at-risk students, in the upcoming year.

We are also currently offering a children’s book written by our friend and local author, Becky Whitmore. Whitmore wrote Find a Penny, a story of a boy who encounters a Veteran in need and finds a way to help. His kindness multiplies through those that see his act of generosity. There are so many messages built into this one powerful story, messages that will naturally create conversation beyond the end of the book. What we know is that generosity and empathy need to be nurtured, and the sooner we introduce and reinforce these concepts, the stronger a community becomes.

And, we have collectively begun community conversation on childcare needs with Aligned Impact Muscatine leading the way, and including Early Childhood Iowa, the Muscatine Y, Kent, HNI, and other community partners. Why is this important? Muscatine County has lost 49% of childcare providers in the past five years; and, 72% of parents both work outside the home.

What is Coming Up?

In March, we are bringing Rural Community Specialist, Ben Winchester in to speak to area leaders, influencers, and interested parties on Moving In, Moving Out, and Moving Over: The Future of Our Rural Communities. Ben will redefine how we look at growth in our towns. And, it is good news!

As the Community Foundation ends our 20th year, we reaffirm our commitment to being thoughtful and strategic in our words and actions, especially as we work alongside of you to design a better, stronger future for our children. It is truly a privilege to be part of the Muscatine County community.

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