Community Foundation grants to fund local organizations

Arts, education to benefit from community donors


The Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine awarded $3,400 in grants to four local nonprofit organizations through the West Liberty Community Fund.

An awards presentation and reception was hosted at MidWestOne Bank in West Liberty by the West Liberty Community Fund committee represented by chair Cindy Mays, Ed Moreno, Ethan Anderson and Virginia Miehe.

“Thank you to the donors who make these awards possible,” said Lynsey Krusie, Program Manager, Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine. “The West Liberty Community Fund is a vital part of community development in West Liberty, and we are excited to see the impact of these programs.”

Mays went on to point out the West Liberty Community Foundation was formed when a group of citizens wanted to put together a foundation for the local community, based on the philanthropy of a local donor and others who wanted to start an endowement fund. Through the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, the group found it easy to make that happen and still have control of the funds.

Mays pointed out that five percent of the ever-growing fund is presented to various organizations helping West Liberty School District residents, the bulk of it going toward youth-oriented services.

Ethan Anderson emphasized that money donated toward the West Liberty Community Foundation “stays here,” going only to organizations benefiting West Liberty area citizens.

Organizations who received grants on Aug. 25 (these had been presented in the past during the holidays at the community holiday open house) included:

– Aligned Impact Muscatine County for the Course to College Program, to increase early college and career awareness, FAFSA completion, post-secondary applications, student participation in Decision Day and support services for students during the summer.

Represented by AIM Director Kim Warren, the group works directly with the West Liberty Community School District to align community resources and identify effective practices for implementation to reduce achievement gaps and improve outcomes for all students and families.

– Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Co. of West Liberty was also provided money for remembering “Buxton Through Puppets,” an interactive puppet performance telling the story of Buxton, Iowa, a coal mining town in southern Iowa.

Theatre Director Monica Leo and associate Stephanie Valez represented the organization and Leo said they were “excited” about getting the funding to develop the show. Along with being a “touring company” that puts shows on all over the Midwest, the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre hosts local events in their building on North Calhoun Street in West Liberty as well as at special events like the upcoming West Liberty Children’s Festival to be held in downtown West Liberty on Sept. 11.

She said the story will tell of the history of Buxton’s mining community, teaching youngsters about the work of coal miners.

– Junior Achievement of the Heartland for Economic Literacy Programs for K-12 grade students also was awarded a grant, represented by vice-president of development Val Yazbec and Stacy Voellinger, senior education manager.

The program connects students to career and work readiness exploration, hoping to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. The group has programs in many of the West Liberty Schools.

– The West Liberty Area Arts Council also claimed a grant for their presentation of a Plein Air Event, where participating artists of all ages paint outdoor scenes in and around West Liberty. It was pointed out an 11-year old girl from West Liberty was among the participants this year.

Held during the week of the fair, the event invites local artists to paint local scenes of anything they desire. They are later judged and are now displayed at MidwestOne Bank in West Liberty, where they can also be purchased to benefit the WLAAC.

Janet Rees, who is chairman of the organization’s newly opened Brick Street Gallery on West Third Street in downtown West Liberty located between the West Liberty Index office and Fred’s Feed, accepted the grant, pointing out the group used the money to purchase easels to display Plein Air art entries. She said the event is not self-sustaining, so the money is valuable for the organization.

Individuals, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to contribute to build these granting dollars by donating to the West Liberty Community Endowment Fund held at the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine. This fund directly impacts area residents by addressing important needs and enhancing the quality of life in West Liberty.

Officials point out “contributing is easy.” Visit and direct any contributions to the West Liberty Community Endowment Fund; send a check to the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine at 104 West Second Street, Muscatine, IA 52761; or call the Community Foundation at 563-264-3863.

For more information on the West Liberty Community Fund, visit Other members of the WLCF advisory committee include treasurer Jerry Melick, Geralyn Owen and Bill Koellner.

It was pointed out the endowment is a permanent fund whose assets are invested to generate income to be used for West Liberty charitable purposes only. Grants from the fund are determined by a West Liberty Advisory Committee and will be used solely for the benefit of West Liberty area nonprofits and their charitable causes.

West Liberty banks serve as approved financial institutions for the Community Foundation. Iowa donors are eligible for a 25 percent state tax credit on their gift through the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program.