2 local organizations receive $ 20,000 each for rural innovation projects | News from the three states


Two local organizations in Iowa receive state funding to fund projects in rural communities.

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Jackson County Economic Alliance were among 17 recipients of the Rural Innovation Grant Program, according to a press release from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The two organizations received a grant of $ 20,000, out of a total of $ 300,000 for projects that benefit rural communities.

Nancy Van Milligen, president and CEO of the community foundation, said funds given to her organization will be used to launch a “reverse scholarship program” to bring newly graduated teachers to rural schools in northeast Iowa. and help them pay off student debt.

“We would all like families to move to our small rural towns, and there is really a shortage of teachers in our small rural schools, especially in the fields (science, technology, engineering and math),” he said. she declared.

Van Milligen said the foundation hopes to give eight to 12 scholarships a year to teachers who commit to working in rural schools in northeast Iowa for three years. She said the scholarships can go to people near graduation or those who have already graduated.

Once the program was established, she said that funds for the scholarships would be raised through donations from community foundations or that funds from existing scholarships could be spent on the program.

“We are really very excited about this opportunity,” she said. “They have been very successful in many communities.

Jackson County Economic Alliance director Nic Hockenberry said his organization would use its grant to partner with the University of Iowa on the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities from school.

The partnership will allow communities in Jackson County to team up with teams of university students on different projects, such as stormwater improvement and entrepreneurial growth. A total of 15 projects will be addressed across the county, depending on the needs and wants of the community.

The University of Iowa initiative typically only focuses on projects in a single community, but Jackson County Economic Alliance officials wanted as many people as possible to benefit, Hockenberry said.

“It would have been difficult for one of our smaller communities to let the university come in and partner with them, but we wanted them to take advantage,” he said.

Planning stages for the majority of projects will begin this fall, he added, although a few may begin later this summer. Hockenberry said the county and its communities will soon receive federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, which they can use to continue funding these projects.

“This is a good opportunity to put a lot of preliminary work in place so that the communities capitalize on these funds which will enter these communities, which can then, hopefully, develop in the future,” he said. declared.

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