Oct. 12, 2009
UI center will help Iowa non-profit organizations rebuild state's economy
A federal stimulus grant to the University of Iowa will help non-profit organizations take on bigger roles in the state's economic recovery.
The $250,000 grant to the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center in the UI College of Law will be used to help non-profits learn about grant funding opportunities, and work more closely together to help the state's economy improve.
"Iowa's non-profit, faith-based and community organizations play a critical role in Iowa's economic recovery," said Richard Koontz, INRC director. "In these difficult times, Iowans turn to non-profits for assistance for everything from housing and energy assistance to recovery aid, such as job training programs."
Koontz points out that 9 percent of Iowa's workforce is employed by non-profit organizations that are having difficulties of their own because of the weak economy. While the federal government has made money available to non-profits through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), he said the recovery activities in Iowa have been "disjunctive" and "less than optimal."
"For example, when immigrant Agriprocessors workers were detained in Postville, the lack of coordination among federal, state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations created what one church official referred to as complete chaos," he said.
To help non-profits collaborate more effectively, the INRC is working with numerous other state agencies and community development groups to hold a statewide conference this fall. The conference will include presentations and workshops about developing successful collaborations and partnerships, using resources, and other issues.
The conference, "Iowa's Economic Recovery: Working Together to Strengthen Our Communities," will be held Nov. 16 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. A follow-up conference will be held in October 2010.
The INRC will also improve its Web site so it can be used more effectively in distributing information to the state's non-profits and connect those organizations with resources and with each other. For instance, Koontz said the INRC will find ARRA resources at the federal and state level and provide information about those resources to non-profits through the Web site.
Grant money will also be used to build a new directory of Iowa non-profits and survey them to learn what they need for additional training, technical assistance and capacity building; and also develop a model to help build collaboration and cooperation with agencies within a community.
"Due to recent natural disasters and the economic recession, Iowa's non-profits play an essential role in the state's economic recovery, but need immediate assistance in accessing additional resources and benefits to maintain their capacity and meet the needs of more Iowans having fewer resources," Koontz said.
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