Focus Area: Education

Prepared for Tomorrow

From cradle to career, Foundation education initiatives are readying the next generation for the future with a solid start in preschool and a focus on early literacy. Our post-secondary scholarship programs are opening doors to prosperous careers while also affording nontraditional students a chance at a better life.

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"In the fall of 2018, 15 percent of children in Iowa West Foundation funded Pottawattamie County preschool classrooms were found to have early literacy skills necessary to become successful readers. By spring of 2019, more than 70 percent of those children had achieved the early literacy skills necessary to become successful readers. Without the additional support of Iowa West Foundation, this increase would not have been possible.

Early literacy skills taught in preschool will only blossom as children move through their elementary years. Without the support of Iowa West Foundation, many children may not have access to learning the reading readiness skills that prepare them for the school years to come."

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Jenny Barnett
Executive Director of Targeted Supports, Green Hills Area Education Agency


Data show that at-risk children from low income families in our communities have the most to gain from a high quality preschool experience. For the past five years, the Iowa West Foundation has funded $1.1 million per year to Green Hills Area Education Agency for preschool services throughout Pottawattamie County.

Green Hills AEA

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.

Raise Me to Read

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.

Council Bluffs Community School District

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.

Pottawattamie Promise


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.

Council Bluffs Schools Foundation - STARS