The Wellmark Foundation has announced five recipients of its 2013 Matching Assets To Community Health (MATCH) grant program in Iowa. The goal of this year’s MATCH grant program is to support communities implementing healthy eating and active living programs, along with environmental change initiatives for healthier communities in the two states supported by the Foundation - Iowa and South Dakota.
“We are excited to support these five community-focused projects in Iowa though our challenge grant program,” said Matt McGarvey, director of The Wellmark Foundation. “This type of funding can be a powerful way to help our grantees collaborate and encourage new stakeholders and funding sources to advance health status improvement locally.”
Ninety-one applications were received for this year’s MATCH grant program, with eight grants being awarded. The five selected to receive funding in Iowa include:
- City of Cedar Falls, $50,000
Project: Community Collaboration to Promote Safe Active Transport with School Age Children
The goal of this initiative is to address one of the primary causes of the epidemic of childhood overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, through mobilization of a unique community partnership to complete the I-WALK assessment, implement and evaluate citywide built environmental changes aimed at stimulating physical activity in the school age population. The project will assist with important decisions to help students be safe, successful and physically active by moving naturally.
- City of Davenport, $45,000
Project: Quad Cities Food Hub Veggie Mobile
Building on the initial success of the Quad Cities Food Hub, a local grocery store at the Freight House, the community foods plan envisions greater community outreach through the purchase and utilization of a “Veggie Mobile,” a traveling fresh food vehicle. The operation will increase access of healthy, fresh, locally grown food to area residents of all economic backgrounds, expand markets for local farmers, as well as access for low-income individuals and families. Education programming will be also be a part of the mobile operation as it stops in neighborhoods throughout the Quad Cities community.
- Prairie Rivers of Iowa, $49,288
Project: Building a Regional Food System in Boone, Story and Hardin Counties
This project hopes to advance nutrition immersion and locally sourced food solutions in Ames and surrounding areas by developing gardens, which involve schools, businesses and institutions in three county areas. These gardens will serve as a rallying place to engage community members in taking responsibility for improving our citizens’ wellness, and increase individuals’ gardening knowledge that will empower them to make better food choices, which will assist us in building our local food system to help us create more sustainable communities.
- Variety – the Children’s Charity, $50,000
Project: Ashley Okland Star Playground
The Ashley Okland Star Playground in Des Moines will be an all-inclusive playground created cooperatively with Des Moines Parks and Recreation. Located at Ewing Park on the southeast side of Des Moines, this playground will be constructed for children with special needs, as well as those not facing those challenges to offer a venue for integrated play, acceptance, and physical activity.
- YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area, $50,000
Project: Dissemination of the SWITCH Obesity Program in Iowa
The SWITCH program, managed by the Community-Campus Partnership for Health at Iowa State University (www.iowaswitch.org), fills an unmet need in youth obesity prevention by positively influencing parenting behaviors and home environments shown to predict risk of obesity. The project will build on an existing partnership with the Cedar Rapids YMCA to build and evaluate a more comprehensive, Web-based tool to facilitate the dissemination of the SWITCH program more broadly.
McGarvey added that this year’s grantees have from August to December 2013 to use their funding as a challenge grant to match the funding award dollar for dollar to leverage new resources to advance the project plans. Selected grants in Iowa and South Dakota total $350,588 and collectively have the potential to leverage more than $1 million from other local funding sources.
To see the complete listing of 2013 MATCH grant program recipients and projects in Iowa and South Dakota, visit the Wellmark Foundation website.
About The Wellmark Foundation
The Wellmark Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation created by Wellmark, Inc., doing business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Please visit The Wellmark Foundation's Web site at www.wellmark.com/foundation to learn more about our grant program, as well as a list of previous grant recipients. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and The Wellmark Foundation are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.