The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Grant rewards helps Iowa City organizations serve underrepresented communities

The City of Iowa City formally approved grant money to nonprofits that serve underrepresented communities.
Madison Frette
Frederick Newell poses for a portrait in his office in Iowa City on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Newell is the founder of a non-profit organization called Dream City.

The Iowa City City Council formally approved its final round of a total of $4 million in grants toward nonprofits and businesses in Iowa City this month that give services to underrepresented individuals and organizations.

The grant was originally announced in April 2022, titled the Inclusive Economic Development Plan. The program was created to use $4 million of the approximately $20 million of the COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds provided to Iowa City by the federal government.

The city received half of these funds in May 2021 and the other half in May 2022.

The April 16 meeting approved the remaining three organizations on a list of seven that were to receive funding.

Dream City, Multicultural Development Center of Iowa, Tailored Tax LLC, DOTŁ’IZHI LLC, the Wright House of Fashion, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, and Just from the Heart are the seven organizations that received funding. Each organization provides services to those in Iowa who are financially disadvantaged or who lack opportunities.

City of Iowa City Deputy City Manager Redmond Jones II said the city’s intention behind the grant was to create an economic ecosystem in Iowa City, specifically southern Iowa City, which is regarded as less economically sound.

One organization, Dream City, received the largest sum from the program, totaling $3 million of the $4 million offered by the program.

Dream City is an organization dedicated to educating and funding small business ventures in the Iowa City area, many of which struggled following the COVID-19 pandemic and are owned by people of color. Dream City also offers physical space for those individuals.

Dream City’s founder Frederick Newell said the organization has a three-pronged plan to use the funds. Primarily, Dream City bought outright the property it was renting at 611 Southgate Ave. for $2.5 million, with the purchase being finalized on April 18.

Additionally, Newell said Dream City plans on renovating the building. The remaining $500,000 of its allotted funds will fund two additional full-time staff members to their current six-person part-time staff.

Newell described Dream City’s location and services as an economic “regional hub” in Iowa City. Newell said the grant project and resulting plans will benefit entrepreneurs and small businesses located on the south side of Iowa City.

Dream City is hosting a roundtable on May 9 for entrepreneurs to share their needs so that the organization may identify which organizations to start working with.

Tailored Tax and Accounting LLC, located at 136 E. Dubuque St., is another business that received $100,000 in funding.

“Not only am I able to help these funds help underrepresented communities, but I’m also able to provide and work collaboratively with others who have received these funds, to help even more people,” Aminata Taylor, the owner, said.

RELATED: Iowa City to allocate $4 million in grants to underestimated businesses, nonprofits

Taylor said she offers the tax help and other services a Certified Public Accountant usually provides but at a substantially lower rate. She also said she collaborates with Dream City and other organizations to provide classes and workshops on financial literacy for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Part of those services are done in collaboration with other businesses, including Dream City. Dream City will refer business owners and individuals to Taylor for her services, while Taylor may use Dream City’s facilities to conduct business.

“At the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind, we want to help the community,” Taylor said.

Jones said the city is training the businesses and organizations on recording and reporting financial information because the grant uses federal funds, which see greater levels of regulation.

“We’re really excited to see these things come to fruition,” Jones said.

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About the Contributor
Madison Frette
Madison Frette, Photojournalist
Madison Frette is a second-year student at The University of Iowa double majoring in Business Analytics and Information Systems and Cinematic Arts. This is her first year working as a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan.