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2021 Small MATCH grant recipients

Small MATCH grants support promising projects that help individuals, families and communities achieve better health with funding requests up to $25,000. The Wellmark Foundation offers grants to projects that either:

  1. Create a safe environment to be physically active in.
  2. Increases access to and consumption of healthy foods.

Get Small MATCH grant eligibility and application details.

See the great work that has been accomplished with funding from the Small MATCH grant.

Improving food security & building healthy eating, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Catherine McAuley Center will implement programming to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient in maintaining healthy eating habits. The existing food pantry, community garden, learning kitchen and children's learning center will be used for demonstrations and hands-on learning so that individuals can acquire the skills needed for healthy food preparation, serving and storage. The center will also work with local food and nutrition experts to offer programming that incorporates diverse and culturally appropriate food choices and cooking techniques.

Pickleball Courts

After being approached by pickleball enthusiasts in the community including the Canistota Pickleball Group and other players, the City Council resolved to replace the existing tennis courts with new pickleball courts. Grant funds will be used to fund the new courts which will include a new concrete base with game lines, pickleball nets and ground sleeves, fencing and lighting.

Playground at Bever Park

The Parks and Recreation Department will use grant funds to update 20-year old playground equipment in the 91-acre, highly used Bever Park. Planned updates include a separate play structure for children ages two to five and another structure geared toward kids ages five to 12. The playground will also be universally accessible, exceeding ADA requirements.

Chamberlain Dinosaur Park

The city is using its Small MATCH funds to add a dinosaur fossil playground to the existing park. This will allow children to balance, hop, jump, run and play with the interactive equipment, while learning about the history behind the monstrous bones and prehistoric creatures.

Accessible Pathways Project

The Accessible Pathways project will replace an uneven 1.2-mile dirt walking path with an ADA-compliant, eight- foot-wide concrete trail around the perimeter of the Burnett Recreational Complex in Dallas Center, Iowa. The Burnett Recreational Complex is home to the city's baseball, softball, and soccer fields and is used by local organizations and the Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District. The Burnett walking path also provides a safe recreational space for extracurricular clubs at the elementary and middle schools, as well as for residents and staff of Dallas Center's older adult retirement community and skilled nursing facility.

Outdoor Pickleball Courts

The DeWitt Pickleball Club is undertaking a project to construct six outdoor public pickleball courts on a parcel of land currently owned by the City of DeWitt, Iowa. This project will include engineering and land preparation, concrete court decking with acrylic surfacing, gates, fencing with windscreens, lighting for evening play and security, and benches.

Splash Pad

The proposed splash pad is a zero depth aquatic play area that encourages physical, functional and social development, gives hours of endless fun, encourages team and interactive play, and stimulates and challenges all ages and abilities. The splash pad will provide a recreational amenity that will serve Epworth and the surrounding community with design elements for toddlers, teens, and families.

Municipal Pool Replacement Project

The City of Keota is replacing its existing pool with a new L-shaped structure that is slightly larger and includes a descending step entry and chair lift to accommodate people of all ages and abilities. The pool will also include swimlanes to allow for swim team competitions. The heated pool will now offer a safe place for community members to stay active beyond the summer months.

Lansing Trails Expansion & Promotion Project

The Lansing Park & Recreation Department will utilize grant funds to develop a wayfinding signage master plan. The plan will establish brand design standards as well as identify the dimensions and locations of signage types needed to help community members more easily and safely navigate the Lansing Park System. The parks system is a year-round, outdoor recreation resource for the region, boasting over 113 acres of park land, including woodlands, prairies, access to the Mississippi River, eight miles of soft trails, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, shelters, and scenic overlooks.

Edgewood Park — Toddler Expansion

The City of Madrid is expanding its park services to include a dedicated toddler play area. Grant funds will be used to secure and install two pieces of equipment that are age appropriate and meet ADA guidelines.

Manson Youth Sports Complex

The Manson Youth Sports Complex project consists of relocating two youth baseball fields and two youth soccer fields to a space adjacent to the Manson Area Community Center. Upon completion of the project, this new space will be the Manson Youth Sports Complex and will provide a dedicated space for youth to play, as the current fields are often used for overflow vehicle parking and are not desirable for recreational use.

Willow Creek Riverwalk

The goal of this project is to create functional, inviting spaces along Willow Creek that incorporate and highlight the natural environment. Mason City wants to highlight this natural gateway into the city by creating an accessible walkway and safe public space that connects residents and visitors to the expanding amenities downtown.

Elbert Park Improvement Project — Phase II

The Elbert Park Improvement Project is a collaborative effort among the Pocahontas Chamber of Commerce, Pocahontas Hometown Pride Committee, and City of Pocahontas, to improve the entire park area and its trail extensions to the community trail system. The next phase of the project will better connect the amenities at the park to make them more accessible and inclusive. To do so, the group will create a walking trail that connects Elbert Park to Princess Park and Rosenberger Park.

Lost Lakes Park — Phase II Development

The City of Polk City is planning to construct Phase II of the Lost Lakes Park development project. This phase will be the final phase of the project. It consists of installation of playground equipment, safety surfacing, landscaping, and a sidewalk connection to an adjacent neighborhood.

Westside Park Obstacle & Fitness Course

The City of Preston is installing a FitCore® course that will include 15 pieces of equipment that promotes strength and agility in Preston's Westside Park. The park is located two blocks from Easton Valley Community School District's junior and senior high school building, which will provide students the opportunity to utilize the course for both recreation and athletic training.

City Park Trail Head

As part of its Comprehensive Plan, the City of Sloan will update its city park and create ADA-compliant walking trails to connect all areas of the city. Currently, the city lacks accessibility as the current system forces walkers to walk in the street as there is not an adequate sidewalk system, which is dangerous for motorists and walkers alike. The new trail system will solve this issue.

Basketball and Pickleball Court

The City of St. Charles plans to rehabilitate and renovate their current basketball court surface area and add a pickleball court. The pickleball court will have eight feet of fencing around it to keep games moving along. The courts will also have acrylic color-coating and lines that will give them a wow factor and will increase their longevity.

4th Street Plaza Pocket Park

The City of Tipton will create a pocket park with grant funds. The concept includes a splashpad, walkway, shade structure, benches and food court location. The 4th Street Plaza Pocket Park will provide a wonderful gathering location and recreational space in the community that currently is not being utilized. The pocket park project is part of the original downtown revitalization project started by the City of Tipton in 2008 and includes input from a citizen-based committee.

Improving the Playground at Veterans Memorial Park

Willow Lake’s "Patriotic Play" project will replace old playground equipment in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park. The new commercial-grade equipment and play surface is designed for safety, accessibility, durability, and ease of maintenance. Once complete, the remaining length of the park will then be freed up for other outdoor activities such as playing catch, bean bags, or tag.

Clark County Activity Center

The new Clark County Activity Center will serve youth and adults of all ages from across the entire community. It includes a large space for youth wrestling, gymnastics, dance, basketball, and taekwondo — activities currently offered in Clark but lack adequate space. The building is also designed with a walking track around its indoor perimeter, providing a safe, nonslip surface for those who want to walk indoors for exercise.

MPO Permanent Trail Counter Program

The MPO has developed a permanent trail counter program to provide trail use information to communities that have invested in building trails that provide a tremendous amenity to locals and tourists alike. The MPO's Permanent Trail Counter Program will establish at least one permanent counter in each of the eight primary Level 1 corridors in the region. The counters will take counts around the clock, under all weather conditions and remotely transmit trail usage data every day. The counters are able to distinguish between bicyclists and pedestrians and can accurately count large groups. This data will help guide programming and decision making to successfully address community needs and improve quality of life.

Diagonal Walkable Community Initiative

This initiative will provide community-wide access to safe walking routes that connect to the city’s recreational amenities. The project includes sidewalks to and from Diagonal Community School, a loop for recreational walking/running, and a connection to the City Park and Fogle Recreation Area. This project will increase community health, mobility, and social interaction as well as increase pedestrian safety.

Ag Innovation Lab

Funds will be used to construct an Ag Innovation Lab that will include a 18' x 36' greenhouse and the equipment and materials needed to grow fresh fruit and vegetables using growing benches, environmentally controlled growth tents, hydroponics, and aquaponics. The lab will be utilized throughout the school year for horticulture course work and food science investigations, as well as simply growing produce for the school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, school lunches and snacks, and other student and community needs.

Connecting Kids in Des Moines to Healthy Food in Schools

FoodCorps Iowa’s trained AmeriCorps members will use grant funds to deliver evidence-backed programs to grades K – 5 that get kids eating healthy. As part of the curriculum in schools, FoodCorps Iowa collaborates with the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to engage kids with place-based nutrition education, incorporating a state SNAP-Ed program called Pick a Better Snack, which includes experiential learning, physical activity, opportunities to taste monthly featured fruits or vegetables, and more.

Community Orchard & Garden — Accessible Entrance & Outdoor Classroom, Des Moines

This project will increase access and visibility to the Forest Avenue Community Orchard and Garden that includes 20 fruit trees, perennial berry bushes, two prairie plots, and 32 raised garden beds. Grant funds will be used to stabilize a steep embankment with a retaining wall and accessible stairs, welcoming neighborhood residents to participate in all offerings. The project will also create an outdoor classroom with a pergola featuring youth-designed artistic shade elements.

NE Elementary Inclusive Playground Project

The goal of the playground project is to create a safe place where all kids can experience play, enhance growth and development, where limitations are forgotten and differences are celebrated. The PTA plans to create this by adding new interactive equipment, specialized equipment designed to enhance physical activity for students of all mobility levels and solid surfacing access points. This new playground will be the only one within the Glenwood community that has ADA-accessible surfacing and equipment.

Edmundson Playground Project

This community project will create a new play space in Oskaloosa's Edmundson Park, a 60 acre park that offers a public swimming pool, disc golf, a pond for fishing, a dog park, ball diamonds, shelters, and a connection to a 15- mile citywide recreation trail. The new playground will be accessible to individuals with developmental, mobility or other concerns and has been designed to be inclusive for all children from six months in age to 12 years.

Rapid City Resident Food Growth and Safety Initiative

This project will launch the Food Growth and Safety Initiative at Mercy Housing Midwest Rapid City properties, providing 270 residents access to on-site food pantries, a community garden, and associated food safety and culinary educational opportunities. While the project will be launched on-site, programming is available to residents and the surrounding community and will include three major components: Food Access, a Community Health and Safety Council, and Food Safety and Culinary Education.

STEAM Grown Education

In 2021–2022 Metro High School will design and build a greenhouse to support nutrition, science, and agriculture education for the entire building. Produce from the garden will be used throughout the year to feed at-risk populations in the community as well as students and their families. STEAM students will regularly utilize the greenhouse for their projects. It will serve as a cross-curricular learning space, a farm-to-table nutrition/health program, an entrepreneurship outlet, and a culinary arts workforce development. STEAM students will also build in a storefront where produce will be offered to the community for at-will donations

Mechanicsville Memorial Walking Trail

The school districit will use grant funds to create a half mile walking trail surrounding the elementary school building and city ballpark. This trail will also provide a place for students to walk when their playground is not accessible due to weather conditions and for social-emotional regulation needs during the school day. It will also be available to all community members so they can safely walk, run, or play.

Expanding to Shrink the Gap, Davenport, Iowa

This project expands River Bend Food Bank's physical capacity to safely store, manage, and distribute millions of pounds of nutritious food to tens of thousands of food insecure Iowans through its 300 partner agencies. The effort will add physical space for people and products; expand programmatic capacity to serve significantly more meals each year; and exceed best practices standards.

The Fairfield Loop Trail Surface Upgrade

This project will upgrade five miles of a heavily used section of the Fairfield Loop Trail. It will also restore the 10-foot trail width and freshen up the trail surface with two inches of limestone chips. The 16-mile long trail encircles Fairfield.

A Garden in Every Lot, Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa

Organizers plan to install 200 backyard gardens over the next year as part of the new A Garden in Every Lot initiative. Grant funds will defray the cost of purchasing a storage shed and to purchase inventory for a tool library for program staff and participants. A Garden in Every Lot is an initiative of the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education. It seeks to support and develop a culture of backyard gardening in the Cedar Valley by helping both individuals and community organizations overcome barriers to starting a garden through site assessment and preparation; providing seeds, plant starts and mulch; negotiating with local landlords and governmental bodies; and coordinating gardening-focused educational programs and events.

Halcyon House Pickleball & Community Garden Project, Washington, Iowa

Halcyon House plans to build an outdoor recreation area and community garden on the west side of its campus in Washington, Iowa. When completed, this new area will include three pickleball courts, a community garden consisting of 24 raised beds, an outdoor seating area and various trees and landscaping to protect individuals from the heat of the sun during the warm, summer months. The space be used by residents of Halcyon House, members of the community, and students from Washington High School.

Dry Run Trail — Decorah to the Greenbelt

This project will construct a new walking/biking trail bridge over Dry Run Creek. In addition to being a significant component of the trail, the bridge will immediately provide access from Decorah and the Trout Run Trail to over 100 acres of new public land in the Dry Run Greenbelt. This area includes hardwood forest, oak savanna, and prairie remnants that harbor 284 plants and animals. Dry Run Greenbelt also boasts hidden springs, waterfalls, limestone bluffs, Dry Run Creek, and other natural treasures for children and families to explore.