Wellmark Foundation announces 2014 “MATCH” grant recipients

Written by Theresa Rose on January 9, 2015

Funding will support projects dedicated to enhancing the health of Iowans
DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 9, 2015) — The Wellmark Foundation has announced 14 recipients of its 2014 Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grant program in Iowa. These 14 competitively awarded grants create pilot efforts or expand health initiatives that focus on childhood obesity prevention and community-based wellness projects.
“The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of $877,110 to these grant recipients,” said Stephanie Perry, The Wellmark Foundation. “This type of funding allowed our grantees to collaborate and encourage new stakeholders and funding sources to improve the health and well-being of their communities.”
Through the 2014 MATCH Grant Program, the 14 grants in Iowa that were able to raise the matching funds to receive the grant include:
• North Butler Sports Complex Project Committee, $50,000 Project: North Butler Community Sports Complex Project
The North Butler Community Sports Complex Project, through a joint-use agreement and shared costs between schools and community groups (Lions Club, City of Allison, City of Greene, North Butler CSD, Booster clubs), will provide a safe, modern, handicap accessible outdoor complex for community wellness (individual running and walking, community 5K, outdoor fitness programs, obstacle courses and Special Olympics), performance (band, vocal and dance) and school, youth leagues and community club competition. The project will serve rural communities without an outdoor activities complex in the North Butler County area.
• City of Osceola, $75,000 Project: Osceola Safe Routes to School/Streetscape Project
This project is a Safe Routes to School/Streetscape infrastructure project that will construct multiple blocks of six-foot wide sidewalks along a route that will connect the elementary school, downtown and middle/high schools, sports complex and existing trails, creating a safe route across the entire city. Educational, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation components of the Safe Routes to School program will also be implemented.
• Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization, $75,000 Project: Complete Streets: Policy Development and Tactical Starts
A metro-wide complete streets policy has the potential to change the way roadways are viewed and provide space for behavior changes needed to adopt healthier, more social and safer transportation choices. Currently, the Des Moines metro area has only two of the 17 communities with Complete Streets policies. The MPO will develop a strategy to prioritize areas for implementation, as well as educate and incentivize the adoption of Complete Street policies and projects by local governments in the metro.
• North Liberty Community Pantry, $38,850 Project: Gardening for Health
This project includes the establishment of a large, supervised garden at the pantry site, construction of a patio and seating area for vegetable harvesting activities, tasting opportunities and nutrition and food preparation classes that will include the recipes, pots and utensils necessary to prepare the produce at home. The purpose is to offer pantry clients the opportunities to participate in supervised gardening activities, to eat fresh fruits and vegetables from that garden and to receive the tools and preparation skills necessary to bring that produce to the table.
• Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, $40,000 Project: Iowa by Trail
This statewide project will make the location and special features of the 1,800 miles of Iowa trails more accessible through the development of a smartphone app and interactive online mapping system. In addition to trail locations and access points, the app will provide information about the trails’ special features and points of interest to enhance the user experience.
• Rebuild and Recover Mapleton Foundation and the Monona County Community Alliance, $75,000 Project: Mapleton Active Living by Design
While planning for long-term disaster recovery, Mapleton’s Rebuild and Recover Committee became aware that many in Mapleton could not walk to or safely access recreational and educational sites by any means other than driving. In an analysis of infrastructure and activity, assisted by Iowa State University, landscape architects and Iowa DOT, they learned that the barriers of highways and discontinuous and broken sidewalks combined with poor lighting inhibited children from walking or biking to school and made access to recreational facilities and nearby necessities like groceries difficult for every age group. They plan to build safe highway crossings and well-lit complete sidewalks to enhance access to school.
• United Way of Story County/Healthiest Ames Coalition, $75,000 Project: Engaging Ames in Complete Streets
In Ames, environments need to be designed to improve health and reduce obesity. Healthiest Ames coalition will lead an initiative to increase physical activity in Ames by engaging stakeholders in envisioning change, designing solutions and partnering for policy change.
• Live Well Council Bluffs, $75,000 Project: Council Bluffs Bike Sharing Pilot
Live Well Council Bluffs is creating a pilot bike-sharing program in Council Bluffs that will be run in conjunction with an existing bike-sharing program in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro area: Omaha B-Cycle. The funding request is to start the program, not to maintain it.
• City of Atkins, $75,000 Project: Parkridge Sidewalk Project
There are no sidewalks that connect the medical clinic, school and daycare to the city soccer fields, park and library along one of the main roads, Parkridge Road, through the City of Atkins. With the traffic level on Parkridge Road, there is a safety concern and also a desire to create a link to existing trail systems throughout the rest of the city.
• PORT of Fort Madison, City of Fort Madison, $75,000 Project: PORT of Fort Madison – Phase I Trail
The PORT of Fort Madison is a commission of the Fort Madison Park and Rec Board to work on area trails. The commission has worked out a three-phase trail plan that will connect existing trails, and that will connect area businesses, food pantry, Rec Plex, low-income housing and the Fort Madison Middle School to each other.
• Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation, $75,000 Project: Head Start to the Farm
Northeast Iowa Community Action will partner with Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative to create a preschool model for nutrition education program featuring Farm to Preschool that will engage and educate children, families and teachers with hands-on experiences on how to make better food choices and how to prevent health and social issues related to childhood obesity. This program will target all families, especially the low-income families who may have a more difficult time making healthy choices due to access.
• Burlington Area YMCA (representing Des Moines County Living Well Coalition), $18,260 Project: Roosevelt Avenue/US 61 Trail Crossing Improvement
This project will improve the street crossing at the busiest road in Burlington, Roosevelt Avenue (US Highway 61). The project will create a safer crossing at this intersection which will increase the amount of bicycle ridership and walkers in the area. The project details include painting a ladder crosswalk, updating curb ramps to meet ADA requirements, trail construction, trail crossing warning signage and installing countdown timers for pedestrians.
• City of Keosauqua, $75,000 Project: Keosauqua Riverfront Trail
The City of Keosauqua is planning a new trail development to connect the existing Keosauqua Loop Trail with the Keosauqua downtown area. The project addresses the issue of the “share-the-roads” section of the trail around the Van Buren County Hospital.
• City of Muscatine, $50,000 Project: City of Muscatine Sidewalk Project
This project will correct five separate gaps in the City of Muscatine sidewalk network that have been identified as being significant impediments to the community’s goal of providing safe routes to school and of making all destinations safely accessible by foot or bike.
This was the second year that The Wellmark Foundation offered the MATCH grant program. To view the grant opportunities available for 2015, 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. Well