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  • Writer's pictureCharla Schafer

A 25-Year Journey of Donor Impact

A quarter of a century ago, Dick Maeglin brought the idea of a Community Foundation home to Muscatine County, and under the initial direction of Jim Nepple, Elaine Terrill, and a founding Board of John Beckey, Hal Green, Mike Johannsen, Rosa Mendoza, Jim Nepple, Paul Ostrem, Mark Patton, Rick Simpson, Mike Spangler, Jim Trosen, and Katrina Wisniewski, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine was established to serve as a catalyst for community-building.


There were early days when it would have been easier to walk away from this fledgling idea, but the founders persisted. And those that followed persisted. Donors and partners believed, demonstrated by both their donations and time, and the impact continued to climb.


The community foundation model is strong. Through donor gifts, both short-term and perpetual, community foundations are positioned to meet the changing needs of a community and to fulfill each donor’s charitable intentions. As community foundations grow, they are designed to continue to hone these skills and broaden their base of activities to include serving in a catalytic role for community change. This in no way takes away from the base of the work, rather it magnifies the depth of impact.

Through strong, visioned guidance, and a community that recognizes the benefit of charitable giving, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine has grown rather rapidly. One marked jump was between 2017 and 2022 when we grew from $20 million in assets with 200 charitable funds to $58 million in assets with 300 charitable funds. As we made this jump, we quickly moved through lifecycles and expanded our role and work.


We are confident that working alongside our donors and community partners we can create upstream change and reduce downstream system costs, bettering the lives of our neighbors and children along the way. 


Two good examples of this are health and housing, both of which create cascading downstream impacts if they are not attainable for our neighbors.


Health

A $ 20-million health clinic facility is currently being built next to the hospital through the Muscatine Health Support Fund, which was transferred to the Community Foundation in 2017. The clinic project is illustrative of the power of local employers, government, and individual donors creating the change they want to see in our community for today and the next generation. This clinic will provide expanded local access to health care, a critically important commodity.


Housing

The Community Foundation hosts the Muscatine County Housing Council, a collaborative made up of government, developers, economic development, and employers aimed at relieving local pressures causing supply-side failures in the local housing market. 


Rural counties can’t effectively solve complex problems in silos, so we have also identified and recruited a cohort of successful partners to evaluate and pilot innovative, cost-saving housing development solutions. The plan is to open-source all our findings, allowing others in our community to replicate processes and create more housing options. By engaging in this work alongside Muscatine Community College, we know that an additional benefit will be the creation of expanded opportunities for local entrepreneurism and workforce training.

 

Just like the day our founders opened the doors in 1999, nothing is possible without our donors who have invested their personal and corporate resources to shape the future of our collective community. And just as we have done throughout our history, we will continue to be deeply impatient, measuring our work in minutes rather than years to strengthen our community through grant-making and donor services as well as the expansion of impact investing and community leadership.

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