MUSCATINE COUNTY – Four recipients were awarded grants from the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine’s Racial Justice Fund this week.
Previously, grants from the Racial Justice Fund were given to two organizations at a time. This month, all four recipients showed great enthusiasm with their projects and focus towards the advancement of racial justice, equity and inclusion in Muscatine and Louisa counties.
The four recipients for January were UnityPoint Health – Trinity Muscatine, West Liberty Citizenship Program, Next Level Basketball and the Salvation Army of Muscatine County’s Pathway of Hope.
“We are excited to support this good work going on in Muscatine and Louisa counties around equity and inclusion,” said Natalie Jones, Marketing Specialist for the Community Foundation, in regards to the four recipients.
The team at UnityPoint Health – Trinity Muscatine will use their grant money to develop a Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager. According to a press release, this manager will address any biases or health disparities within Trinity, and work toward reducing racial and healthcare inequities in the Greater Muscatine area.
The program manager will develop educational content and resources for community members and provide training to prevent incidences of discrimination at Trinity.
Established in 2019, West Liberty Citizenship Program has already focused many of its efforts on helping new, immigrants integrate into the community, and provide them with education.
“Our program helps residents with the steps needed to obtain United States citizenship,” Dan Stevenson said in a press release, “Volunteer teachers, community members and West Liberty students work with immigrant community members to complete naturalization applications and prepare for the citizenship test and interview.”
Using funds from their Racial Justice grant, the West Liberty Citizenship Program will help clients cover application costs for naturalization. Funds will also be used to cover supplies and fees that the program has.
Next Level Basketball, which is based in Muscatine, will be using grant funds to provide basketball scholarships. The program plans on increasing the percentage of minority participants, and close the equitable gap that some minority players may face.
According to Director Terrence Watson, the program’s percentage of minority players went from less than 10% to 28% in around three years. “We would like to continue to provide equal opportunity for everyone interested in participating,” Watson said in a press release.
Finally, the Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope (POH) plans to use the grant to hire a Family Advocate Case Manager and translator for the West Liberty area. Funds from the grant will be used to provide utility, rental and transportation assistance to clients in an attempt to provide stability they may not have otherwise.
"Since this grant fund opened in June 2020, we have granted over $100,000 to local organizations including Flickinger Learning Center, Aligned Impact Muscatine, Diversity Service Center of Iowa, West Liberty High School Band, West Liberty Public Library, and the West Liberty School District,” Jones said.
According to Niche.com, Muscatine County is the sixth most diverse county in Iowa, with Louisa County ranked eighth. Jones said she and the Community Foundation are grateful for the initiative these organizations are taking in order to improve equity and inclusivity, as well as uplift those most marginalized in the community.
“The next Racial Justice grant application cycle will open in May and our hope is this will further encourage community dialogue that leads to continued action,” Jones said.
To learn more about the Racial Justice Fund or to make a donation to the fund, visit www.muscatinecommunityfoundation.org/racial-justice-fund or call 563-264-3863.