Iowa City opens applications for the Social Justice and Racial Equity Grant

The City of Iowa City has opened applications for a grant program that is designed to advance social justice and racial equity in the Iowa City community.


Aadit Tambe, [email protected]

Iowa City has opened applications for a grant program designed to advance social justice and racial equity in the Iowa City community.

The grant program was started this year, and eight applications were received, of which five were funded in March.

The five organizations chosen for funding were Sankofa Outreach Connection, Inside Out Reentry Inc., World of Bikes and Iowa City Bike Library, Iowa Legal Aid, and the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition.

City Equity Director Stefanie Bowers said in an email to The Daily Iowan that an organization should be Iowa City-based in order to apply to the grant. The grant is available for applications from Dec. 1 to Jan. 2.

Six priority service areas have been identified by the council, and applicants addressing one or more of these would receive preference. The areas are: education, building community, housing, criminal justice, health, and employment.

“The purpose of the funding is to encourage, empower and engage social-justice and racial-equity initiatives,” Bowers said. “The [grant] funding is available to for-profit and nonprofit Iowa City-based organizations to fund programs, activities, or services that eliminate inequities in the community.”

The Iowa City City Council has approved $25,000, which will be split among the recipients.

The applications will be reviewed by the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, and it will make recommendations to the City Council by March 31. The funds will be awarded by June 1, 2018.

“We did some research and looked into other cities that had implemented similar grants,” City Councilor Kingsley Botchway said.

This pushed the council to support the program in order to encourage social and racial equity, Botchway said.

“We were woefully under technology. We had one computer that did not work all the time,” said Mike Cervantes, the director of Inside Out Reentry. “So we used the grant we got last year to upgrade our computers, and that has made a huge difference. It makes a difference to a small organization like us, because our budget is really tight.”

Inside Out Reentry helps individuals formerly incarcerated to re-enter society.

The group now has a resource center for individuals who try to reconnect with the community. The grant has been used to set up a computer lab, so individuals don’t have to be walked through the library or volunteers don’t need to bring their own computers, Cervantes said.

Inside Out Reentry will apply for the grant again this year. The organization will have to identify its needs and draft a proposal.

It makes a bigger difference to organizations such as Inside Out Reentry, because most of its funding comes from individuals who contribute, Johnson County, and Iowa City.

“The grant is a crucial to us, beause it is a big part of how we keep going,” Cervantes said.

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