UI College of Public Health, Iowa Farm Bureau fund programs to improve Iowans’ well-being

The Business Leadership Program awards four community-oriented programs with up to $3,000 in grants. This year the program will award grants to organizations in Dewitt, Albia, Dubuque, and Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Alliyah Lipsit, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Business Leadership Network is awarding money to four organizations’ projects in Iowa focusing on promoting health and community-oriented work.

The four recipients were Clinton County Agricultural Extension Services, the Crescent Community Health Center, the Monroe County Public Health, and the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education. They were awarded up to $3,000 to use toward their programs, which all help advocate for the well-being of various Iowa communities.

The Business Leadership Network’s community grant program and the UI College of Public Health choose the grant recipients through money from The Iowa Farm Bureau.

The Business Leadership Program was founded in 2011 by a former dean of the UI college of Public Health, Sue Curry, who current dean Edith Parker said noticed the university had a lot of outreach in the state from the college, but not so much in small businesses and in smaller, more rural areas of the state.

“We really have tried to focus on creating relationships in the area of the state where we hadn’t really had a strong presence,” Parker said.

One of the recipients, the Clinton County Agricultural Extension Services in Dewitt, Iowa, works to provide research-based learning opportunities for citizens.

“Our goal is to use the money to deliver powerful tools for caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs,” said Barbara Dunn-Swanson, an Iowa state human science specialist at the Clinton County Agricultural Extension Services.

Specifically, Dunn-Swanson said the $3,000 will go directly to the Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program, which is a six-week class that helps support caregivers of children with special health or behavioral needs.

The funds will provide each participant with a Caregiver Helpbook to help them learn throughout the course, as well as an evening meal, she said. Funds have also been allocated to secure respite care if necessary for class participation, to ensure everyone is able to participate.

“The funding reduces the financial barrier that many caregivers may experience in trying to participate in an educational series such as Powerful Tools,” Dunn-Swanson said.

The Crescent Community Health Center in Dubuque, Iowa, works to “provide high-quality, respectful and affordable medical, dental, and brain health care to improve the health and well-being of our community,” according to its mission statement.

The Crescent Community Health Center will use the funds toward accomplishing its mission statement of providing both primary medical and dental care to members of the community who are underrepresented.

Monroe County Public Health in Albia, Iowa works with Healthy Families America, a national home visiting program that provides free child development assistants.

The public health department has a variety of curricula, including developmental screenings in the home, depression screenings, and training on potty training, Manager of Monroe County Public Health Chris Dommer said.

Dommer said the grant will be used to train staff members.

“I wrote the grant for staff because keeping up to date on training helps us provide best practice, for information for families and stuff like that,” Dommer said.

The UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education in Cedar Falls, Iowa, offers programs like:

  • Green Iowa Americorps, which offers energy and environmental services to communities all around Iowa
  • Community Energy and Climate Action, which works toward eliminating the use of fossil fuels instead of using renewable energy sources
  • UNI Local Food Program, a food program that strengthens Iowa’s local food economy through food donations
  • Improving Community Environmental Health, which works on protecting the environmental health of children in Iowa

This includes offering technical assistance, educational programs, and leadership in energy conservation and renewable energy, environmental conservation, and community-based agriculture.

“The most important part of these grants are that they are a community-identified problem with a commitment from the community to address it,” Parker said. “The grants are only $3,000, but they truly do go a long way.”