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13 Iowa organizations receive Large MATCH Grants

The Wellmark Foundation has notified 13 Iowa organizations they will receive Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grants, contingent upon securing the required dollar-for-dollar match. To ensure community support for these projects, organizations have until Aug. 25 to secure their matching funds. Each of these grantees are planning projects that can help individuals, families and communities achieve better health through built environment initiatives that encourage physical activity and providing access to healthy foods.

"The Wellmark Foundation is excited to see the planning, focus and community engagement in each of the selected applications," said Mary Lawyer, executive director for The Wellmark Foundation. "Each project has the potential to make a positive, long-term impact on the overall health and well-being of community which will enhance the quality of life for generations to come."

The organizations and projects selected to receive a Wellmark Foundation 2021 Large MATCH grant include:

6th Avenue Corridor Urban Neighborhood Main Street Program, $100,000
Streetscape - Phase II (Des Moines)
The 6th Avenue Corridor Streetscape Project is transforming the built environment of 6th Avenue in Des Moines using multiple Complete Streets principles by implementing reduced traffic lanes, a multi-use path with dedicated space for bicyclists, widened sidewalks, dedicated parking, green infrastructure, and public art. The 6th Avenue Corridor Streetscape Project is the longest and most environmentally-sustainable streetscape project ever implemented in Polk County and focuses on an area with the greatest need for meaningful, grassroots economic development while providing a safe space for all community members.

Central Iowa Shelter & Services, $100,000
Agri-Hood (Des Moines)
Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) provides more than 200,000 meals per year to onsite emergency shelter and permanently housed clients, an additional 5,000 meals per year to anyone who is hungry and comes in for free daily lunches, and 165,000 meals per year at 17 meal sites. To fulfill these food access needs for the most vulnerable members of the community, while also being responsive to additional community needs, CISS is constructing a large-scale Agri-Hood to increase food production, build client job skills, and develop an attractive green space for all downtown residents and visitors. The Agri-Hood will include a new greenhouse with vertical gardens, aquaponics (fish ponds), outdoor floating garden beds, and an expanded orchard that, in total, will produce the equivalent of 25 acres of food. The Agri-Hood will double current production, while also generating enough vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish to share with food banks.

City of Algona, $100,000
Central Park Redevelopment (Algona)
The Central Park Redevelopment Project will breathe new life into the city's most prominent and accessible park. Central Park is located on a visible city corner and its central location makes it accessible to both residents and visitors. Central Park's skate park and basketball courts were built over tennis courts more than 20 years ago. This much-needed project will reconstruct the skate park and basketball court, place needed fencing around courts, add green space for free play, increase lighting, and add new sidewalks to make the park more accessible from all directions. These improvements will create a modern, safer park with more user-friendly amenities thereby encouraging outdoor activity.

City of Auburn, $100,000
Grant Park Trail - Phase II (Auburn)
Grant Park Trail is a 1.5 mile long trail that connects the City of Auburn to Grant Park, a Sac County park. Grant Park Trail is designed to entertain, inform and make people move. When completed Grant Park Trail will be the venue to exercise, learn, observe, appreciate, and wonder. All of the things that make us healthier and happier. Phase II of this multi-phase project will provide the connection to Grant Park by adding needed bridges over the existing rugged terrain, woodland and creeks that drain into the North Raccoon River. The goal is to create a trail that allows people to enjoy the woodlands without doing any irreparable damage to the surrounding timber and streams. These bridges will allow trail users to enjoy the stunning scenery while protecting the woodland marsh and streams below.

City of Chariton, $100,000
Splash Pad (Chariton)
The Splash Pad is a project that was started by SPLASH, a youth leadership organization comprised of middle and high school students. The Splash Pad design will feature Chariton’s first fire truck and water tower. While the design shares Chariton’s community pride and history, it will also provide accessible recreational activities as not all children or adults can enjoy the current aquatic center's features. The Splash Pad will be adjacent to the aquatic center, but open throughout the day and evening for use.

City of Creston, $100,000
McKinley Park Aquatic Center - Phase I (Creston)
McKinley Park Aquatic Center is the renovation and expansion of the existing Creston Pool. The renovation and expansion will offer new features including zero-depth entry, a walking channel, slides designed for all ages, a climbing wall and inclusive play area. The design is focused on ease of access for users of all ages and abilities, thus providing more opportunity for activity for the entire community. The project has been divided into two phases. Phase I will include the inclusive play area, toddler slide, improvements to the pool bowl to make it zero-depth entry, as well as improvements to the existing mechanical system, including a water heater to make the pool more usable in the range of Iowa temperatures in spring, summer and fall.

City of Farley, $100,000
Farley Park Legacy Project (Farley)
The Farley Park Legacy Project will update and expand the communities’ primary space for all recreation activities. The project will include the addition of three new sport courts dedicated to tennis/pickleball, basketball and sand volleyball; an enclosed pavilion; a 4,000 square-foot splash pad; a new walking trail around the park; a retention pond for better drainage and flooding prevention; updated ADA accessible sidewalks and lighting throughout the entire park. The project will bring more people seeking physical activity to the park. New lighting and accessible sidewalks will make them safe and attractive to many more people of all ages and abilities.

City of Hills, $25,000
Hills Meadows Park Expansion – Phase III (Hills)
The City of Hills has successfully completed two phases of a park expansion that added a splash pad, equipment building, privacy fence, covered shelter, picnic tables, and trash and recycle bins. Phase III of the expansion project includes an inclusive playground for users of all ages and abilities, outdoor exercise equipment, shade trees, park benches, and a pollinator garden. This expansion project provides outdoor recreation opportunities for all Hills residents and visitors.

City of Sheldon, $100,000
Crossroads Park Trail (Sheldon)
The project will create a one-mile loop around the Crossroads Park Lake and add one mile to the existing Sheldon Recreational Trail system. The trail will tie in to the existing 6.23 miles of the Sheldon Recreational Trail which incorporates residential neighborhoods, schools, parks, and Northwest Iowa Community College together via a pedestrian and bicycle safe transportation system. The existing trail is used year-round and is part of the overall community effort to create space for physical activity and to enhance the overall wellness of the Sheldon community.

City of Stanton, $100,000
Stanton Greenbelt Trail - Phase I (Stanton)
The entire Stanton Greenbelt Trail will be 3.1 miles, of which 1.8 miles has been completed. The remaining 1.2 miles of trail will be constructed on the east side of Stanton and will include two construction phases. Phase I will include one mile of trail on the eastern side of the city that will connect the Stanton Child Resource Center with the southeastern side of town at Frankfort & 225th Street. Phase II is approximately 0.275 miles, and will connect Phase I to Anderson Park, home of the high school baseball field and picnic area.

City of West Union, $100,000
Gateway to Recreation: West Union to Echo Valley State Park Trail (West Union)
The project will construct a new 1.85 mile trail connecting the City of West Union to Echo Valley State Park. This new trail will connect to an existing trail network of over three miles within the State Park. It will also provide a new starting point to enjoy the existing trails allowing both new and experienced riders and walkers additional recreation points, hence expanding the experience and health and welfare of the enthusiast. The project will ignite the City of West Union’s vision plan of being the "Gateway to Recreation" in Northeast Iowa.

Edgewood Board of Economic Development, $94,300
Viking Loop Trail (Edgewood)
The Edgewood Viking Loop Trail is a paved, multi-use trail around the Community Dreams Sports and Recreation Complex and Edgewood Industrial Park. The project will create a safe, accessible, and attractive trail route that promotes the health and wellness of the community's residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. The one mile, 10-foot-wide trail will increase the safety and accessibility of the community with new linkages to the city's sidewalk network for a safe, accessible, connected route for people walking and bicycling, as well as those with mobility impairments, from the downtown business district and nearby neighborhoods to the Edgewood Industrial Park.

Oakridge Neighborhood Services, $100,000
Play City Expansion- Phase I (Des Moines)
Relying on community input collected through the planning stages of the Play City expansion, Oakridge has developed a phased implementation of the project. Feedback concluded the current stand-alone playground equipment in Play City does not need to be replaced, but enhanced to make it a destination for recreational activities for the whole family. The master plan includes replacing the shelter to better serve the community, walking trails, a mini soccer pitch, rehabbed basketball courts, zip lines, climbing boulders and a splash pad. Phase I will include the zip lines, climbing boulders, and Mini-Pitch Modular Soccer Field. All three of these components will offer opportunities for play for all ages and increase physical well-being, as well as social interaction.

"Since 1991, The Wellmark Foundation has provided more than $36.6 million in grant funding to communities across Iowa and South Dakota," said Lawyer. "While a tremendous amount of work has been accomplished over the past 30 years, The Wellmark Foundation recognizes sustainable changes take time and we are pleased to continue to offer these grant opportunities."

View previous Wellmark Foundation MATCH grant recipients.