Providing aid to agencies

BY BEN MARKS | AUGUST 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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Raising funds isn’t sexy, and often the things that need to be funded aren’t sexy, either.

For local nonprofits such as the Iowa City Shelter House and the Johnson County Crisis Center, sometimes, it can be difficult raising money for everyday things such as utility bills.

“A lot of these agencies will raise funds, but no one raises funds for utility bills or insurance payments — the non-glamorous items, so Aid to Agencies is a good fit for things they can’t directly raise funds for,” said Tracy Hightshoe, an Iowa City neighborhood services coordinator.

Aid to Agencies is a local program that has operated for at least the past 15 years; it is designed to provide money to nonprofits and human-service agencies.

It’s a collaboration among four entities: Johnson County, Coralville, Iowa City, and United Way.
Although there is only one joint application for the four agencies, each has different goals and submits funding independently of the others.

“Each funder has its own prerogative about what it is going to fund or how it is going to fund it,” Hightshoe said.

For Iowa City, she said, officials look to fund human-service organizations.

“We try to target agencies that help people,” she said. “If you’re talking about safer communities, more livable communities, and helping residents succeed.”

Last year, Iowa City funded 13 agencies, including the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, United Action for Youth, the Crisis Center, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County.

Scott Hansen, the director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the organization has received the funding for at least the past 14 years, and it’s one of the largest parts of its budget.

“It’s huge; it’s a big part of our budget,” he said. “For us in particular, it’s maybe 20 percent of our annual budget, so it’s a really big deal for us to continue to get this funding.”

Hansen said it receives anywhere from $120,000 to $125,000 a year from the four agencies.

One of Iowa City’s goals, he said, is to increase youth programming, and as a youth-mentoring organization, it’s a good fit.

Hightshoe said organizations usually receive anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 just from Iowa City. Last year, the highest amount went to the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County at $50,000.

Marcia Bollinger, an Iowa City neighborhood outreach coordinator, said because of a lack of staff, it had to limit the lowest amount of funding an organization could request to $15,000 because of the amount of work it took to process the smaller applications.

“That came out more because to administer a $5,000 Aid to Agency grant is just as much work to administer a $50,000 one,” she said. “You still have contracts, reporting requirements, etc.”

Now with a higher minimum, officials are able to focus more on specific organizations, she said.
Ultimately, Hightshoe said, the program is about creating a better community.

“[It’s about ] building healthy neighborhoods,” she said. “A lot of these agencies serve people who are IC residents. So a part of it is helping neighborhoods and neighborhood stabilization.”

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