About the Project

Most small towns in the rural service area of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque face serious, chronic challenges: empty buildings on Main Street, declining school enrollment, too few housing options and recreation opportunities, and a deficiency of technical/professional entry-level jobs. Despite these common struggles, there are champions in every community committed to building bright futures with the right tools.

In June 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded a two-year, $150,000 Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grant to the Community Foundation for a project aimed at building greater prosperity and sustainability in five rural communities: Harpers Ferry, Edgewood, Monticello, and Jackson County in Iowa and Jo Daviess County in Illinois. The grant funded work to build the capacity of local nonprofits to inspire and equip community members to work together on a wide range of issues: from grade-level reading help for third graders to health and wellness planning for retirees. Staff from CFGD offered training and technical assistance to nonprofits, empowering them to take charge of their communities’ futures while inspiring others to do the same.

In addition, the project would build a portfolio of philanthropic tools for other rural communities to use on their pathways to greater development success.

There were three project goals:

  1. Engaged Communities
  2. Endowment Building
  3. Strategic Development Initiatives — a model for community development philanthropy where priorities are matched with expanding resources, including non-endowed project funds

These three goals were pursued by local champions and supported by Community Foundation-led training and technical assistance to weave a stronger social fabric in these five self-determined communities.

Read About the Five Communities