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Iowa Great Places

Special Recognition and Infrastructure Development
to Iowa Nonprofits and Agencies to Improve Civic Pride

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs - Iowa Arts Council

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

05/01/18 11:59 PM


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A program offering special recognition is available to Iowa nonprofit organizations and government agencies to recognize their communities' authentic and unique qualities that enhance local quality of life. Once designated, professional development, networking, and technical assistance opportunities will be provided to each community. In addition, designated communities will be eligible for grant funding available in the fall of 2018.

The Iowa Great Places program seeks to recognize communities that take action to enhance their local places while staying true to the qualities that makes them unique. Designated communities have demonstrated a vision that values their assets while challenging themselves to set realistic goals for advancing their quality of life. The program provides Iowa Great Places designation and the opportunity for funding of supported vertical infrastructure projects as defined by the Iowa Code 8.57.

The program goals are to cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions in order to make them great places to live and work through professional development training; technical assistance opportunities; a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders; and access to other state and local resources.

In addition to designation, the program supports projects that are integrated with a shared vision and set of strategies, involve significant partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional assets in the following areas:

-Arts and Culture
-Entrepreneurial incentive for business development
-Historic Fabric
-Housing Options
-Natural Environment

Benefits of Designation Iowa Great Places Designation:

Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions are awarded Iowa Great Places designation as a point of civic pride. Designation may be used in signage and marketing material to promote the area. Newly designated Iowa Great Places are added to the Iowa Great Places network on an annual basis through a competitive application process. Once designated, networking, professional development and technical assistance will be provided to the community by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Designated places also receive additional consideration by other state agency programs for endorsed projects for three years post-designation. Additional state agency consideration is limited to up to three projects proposed through the fall grant funding application cycle and does not apply to the spring designation application. Designated Iowa Great Places must complete a re-designation process every five years at which point they can present new projects for endorsement and potential funding.

Expectations After Designation:

Following designation, communities are expected to be active members in the Iowa Great Places network. In order to demonstrate active participation and continued commitment through the re-designation application process, designees must have participated in more than two qualifying Great Places meetings, events or professional development opportunities as determined by Iowa Great Places staff within the five- year designation period. Such opportunities may include an annual meeting, regional networking opportunities, webinars, or sponsored state conferences hosted by partner state agencies. Additionally, all designated Iowa Great Places must be willing to be active participants in the Iowa Great Places mentoring program for potential or new designees as needed. Mentors and mentees will be matched by Iowa Great Places staff based on community similarities or geographic proximity. The mentorship structure will be flexible based on the needs of the mentee and can include but is not limited to application advice, visioning best practices, in-person visits, or conference calls.

Funding Opportunity:

In addition to the benefits of designation, each designated Iowa Great Place has the opportunity to receive grant funding for a single project during each five year designation. Once designated, Iowa Great Places may request funding during the fall grant cycle for up to three proposed projects during each of the first three years of their designation until funding is received. Only one project per designated Iowa Great Place can receive funding. Reviewed project proposals that are not awarded funding may receive endorsement by the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board and be eligible to receive three years of additional consideration from partner state agency programs.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 171519

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grantees will receive an Iowa Great Places Designation and fall 2018 funding eligibility with an average award of $185,000.

Term of Contract:

Designated Iowa Great Places must complete a re-designation process every five years at which point they can present new projects for endorsement and potential funding.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants must be one of the following types of entities. Entities who do not meet these requirements are not eligible to apply:
-Federally tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated and physically located in Iowa
-Physical location is defined as maintaining a current home office and registered agent address in Iowa defined by Iowa Code 490.501 as well as maintaining a primary staff presence physically located and working in Iowa
-Unit of local, county or federally-recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa
-Municipal agencies with 28E agreements physically located in Iowa

A single entity must be selected to serve as the primary applicant for both designation and grant funding for future proposed projects involving collaboration between a consortium of partners. The selected entity must meet the definition of eligible applicant.

The applicant will be responsible for submitting eligible material during both the designation and funding application processes and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of an agreement if awarded designation or funding.

Partners and collaborating entities are not subject to the eligibility requirements but may be subject to financial and programmatic review during the selection process.

The following types of entities are not eligible to apply:
-Unit of state or federal government
-For-profit or commercial entity
-Entities geographically located within a currently designated Iowa Great Place
-Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees who have an outstanding final report or who have been placed on a department funding moratorium
-Applicants who have unsuccessfully applied for Iowa Great Places designation in the past two consecutive years

Pre-proposal Conference:

New applicants are invited to attend the live instructional webinar scheduled for February 6, 2018 at 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM.

Applicants for current Iowa Great Places seeking re-designation are invited to attend the webinar scheduled for February 7, 2018 at 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM.

Pre-Application Information:

Grant awards required a 1:1 match.

If you are interested in a mentorship with a currently designated Iowa Great Place to prepare for designation, please contact program staff.

The deadline to apply for destination is May 1, 2018, 11:59 PM. If a designation is received, the deadline to submit a pre-application for grant funding is August 1, 2018, 11:59 PM.

-February: An informational webinar will outline the requirements of the designation process and provide resources for community visioning.
-May: The deadline to submit an online application to the program is May 1, 2018 at 11:59 PM.
-June: Applicants may be required to host a site visit with Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs staff and Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board members.
-June: Applicants will be notified of designation decisions by June 29, 2018.
-August: The deadline to submit a pre-application for grant funding is August 1, 2018 at 11:59 PM.

For guidance on community visioning or to find resources from other state agencies, view the corresponding toolkits:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for the February 6 webinar (New Applicants):

Register for the February 7 webinar (Current Iowa Great Places):

Complete the application:

Liesl Voges, Community Development Manager
515-242- 6195

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Iowa