2018 Initiatives

Transformational Impact

Vision. Planning. Collaboration. Adaptation. Initiatives require everyone to look at the big picture. The hope is a solution that creates transformational impact. Instead of a reactive approach, initiatives are proactive and involve ongoing conversations with community leaders and partner organizations. Data-driven research and evaluation are also essential to spark change. The Foundation’s strategic plan calls for us to serve as a convener and a leader. Initiatives allow us to fulfill that role. Here are some key initiatives from 2018.

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International Baccalaureate Middle Schools

The International Baccalaureate program is a framework that encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world. After helping launch the primary years program at College View and Carter Lake elementary schools, the Iowa West Foundation funded $365,000 in 2018 of a total of $955,000 expansion of IB into Council Bluffs Community School Districts’ Middle Schools: Wilson and Kirn. IB students are encouraged to keep an open mind, take risks, and express their ideas.

Iowa West Field House

These eight hardwood basketball courts that convert to 12 volleyball courts are an impressive sight to behold. Access for southwest Iowa sports teams was priority one when the facility opened its doors in 2017. In year two, community teams utilized more than 3,000 hours of free court time, which allows organizations like COBRA to keep their costs low. The facility is also driving economic development in the MAC area. Events at the field house resulted in nearly 2,444 hotel stays, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Raise Me To Read

Being read to from birth can route a path to kindergarten readiness, reading ability in third grade, and -believe it or not - high school graduation rate. The Raise Me to Read initiative launched in 2016. In 2018, IWF funded $135,000 to continue to emphasize the importance of early literacy through free book distribution, story walks and the promotion of attendance awareness and summer learning opportunities in Council Bluffs.


This scholarship program administered by the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation is designed to assist low-income parents and custodial grandparents with college expenses that are beyond most financial aid packages. To date, more than 300 Pottawattamie County residents have received a license, certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree as a result of the STARS program.

Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment

A $27 million Arts & Culture Center? In Council Bluffs? That’s right. In 2018, the Foundation awarded $1.4 million of its $9 million pledge to help make this a reality With a mission to showcase Council Bluffs’ history, provide high-quality performance space, and strengthen arts education offerings, PACE will be transformational for Pottawattamie County. The Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center opens in 2020.

Pottawattamie Promise

Currently, every 3 out of 5 jobs require more than a high school diploma. Less than a third of Pottawattamie County residents over age 25 meet those qualifications. Pottawattamie Promise is changing that statistic. This initiative funds tuition for students who qualify from FIVE Pottawattamie County high schools on their quest for a better life. Support starts in high school and continues with intrusive counseling at Iowa Western Community College. From there, a diploma, credential or certificate helps lead to a living wage in a fulfilling career. In 2018, the Iowa West Foundation funded $1,078,928 for current students as well as the 70 new students who enrolled in the fall.

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West Broadway

A city’s main thoroughfare serves as the first impression of the community. By funding $9 million for aesthetic improvements to this multi-million dollar construction project on West Broadway, what could’ve been just a road will be a memorable gateway into Council Bluffs. The beautification will not only impress tourists but also make residents proud.