Social Justice and Racial Equity Grants provide organizations in Iowa City with funding for new resources, programs

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The Iowa City Social Justice and Racial Equity Grant offers local organizations, such as the Food Pantry at Iowa and the University of Iowa Labor Center, opportunities to diversify their impact on the community.

The grant is available to nonprofit and for profit organizations based in Iowa City responsible for empowering and engaging in social justice and racial equity initiatives that promote the elimination of inequalities in Iowa City. Preference is given to organizations that deal with education, housing, criminal justice, community development, health and employment.

Annual applications Social Justice and Racial Equity Grant opened for FY2022 and must be submitted by January 8, 2022. Applicants must answer several questions about their organization and provide a proposal and schedule for using grant funds if selected.

According to the city’s website, a grant totaling $ 75,000 has been approved by the Iowa City Council for fiscal year 2022 and will be distributed among recipients. Last year, five organizations received full grant funding, and a sixth organization received partial funding.

The Iowa Pantry, a free service for students, faculty, and staff at the University of Iowa, received a grant last year that allowed the Pantry to purchase food more culturally diverse and to accommodate more community members looking for specific food items, Voter Relations Coordinator Sarah Henry wrote in an email to The Iowan Daily.

“Before the grant period, we used to buy a small, very limited amount every week from local stores, but now we can buy a lot more,” Henry wrote. “Plus, we can use the funds to buy different foods to try out in the pantry, rather than having to stick to a fixed list every week. “

Henry wrote that she hopes the increase in culturally diverse foods in the pantry has made the diverse communities of people in IU and Iowa City feel a better sense of community belonging.

The Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition, a member-run organization that aims to make equitable and stable housing accessible and affordable to residents of Johnson County, has received two grants in the past, said Sara Barron, Executive Director of the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition.

“Both times we have received the grant, it has given us the opportunity to expand our reach into the community to improve our social justice and racial equity practices, and to undertake projects that we do not. could not have achieved otherwise. Barron said.

The most recent grant the coalition received allowed them to organize educational outreach events to share space with neighborhoods in need of affordable housing, said Barron. This allowed the group to form strategies that would center community voices in housing decisions within Iowa City.

“It helps us understand better ways to reach people with the support available, as well as the supports that are missing so that we can make sure everyone has a safe and stable place to feel at home,” said Barron. .

The Sankofa Outreach Connection and the Black Lives Matter at School-Iowa collaborated to receive one of the grants to fund the Leadership Academy in Ethnic Studies, a program for black girls in Iowa City aimed at developing leadership skills, practicing community activism, and learning about equity through black historical figures, said Lisa covington, director of the Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy.

The grant will allow the program to expand its Black History Saturday school initiative, hosted by Black Lives Matter in School-Iowa, to a weekly program for young women in the community.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 802 in June, prohibiting the teaching of “divisive matters,” including the idea that the United States is systematically racist, or the idea that an individual race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive. Reynolds presented the law as a ban on critical race theory.

“This curriculum actually contradicts this legislation which says what we cannot teach, because anything that is considered a concept of division is in fact part of our curriculum.” Covington noted.

The program will start in early 2022 as a community response to requests from students in the Iowa City Community School District to demand an ethnic studies course in schools, Covington said.

“Teaching the truth and teaching ethnic studies and black studies really allows us to think about how we teach accurate history to young people in particular,” Covington said.

The UI Labor Center, which offers educational programs, support and non-credit courses to youth, workers, community members and union leaders, also received a grant last year.

Paul Iverson, Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Program IU Work Center Coordinator, said at the time of receiving the grants, the program provided support to 26 pre-apprentices from Iowa City, of whom 13 were first-generation immigrants, as well as two who identify as Hispanic and 20 as black.

For those who chose not to pursue construction trades after graduating from the program, Iverson said they got better jobs because of the education and certificates they received as part of the program. of the unemployment insurance program.

“This has been vital in helping us recruit and provide training and support to people in the Iowa City area trying to enter the building and construction trades and to diversify the pool of people we can. provide our services, ”said Iverson.

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