May 2, 2013
The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation (CDAF) will celebrate 20 years of active community support and philanthropy with a public anniversary open house on Fri., May 10, at the foundation offices from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
CDAF is a family foundation that strives to improve the quality of life in Grinnell and neighboring communities through ongoing support and resources in the areas of parks and recreation, education, and health.
“ ‘Giving back’ is central to the many community accomplishments and funded projects of CDAF, the Ahrens Park Foundation and the Ahrens Charitable Trust over the past 20 years. These successful projects represent Claude and Dolly’s wishes and honor their legacy,” said Foundation president and CEO Julie Gosselink. “We invite the public to come to the open house to reflect on 20 years of community involvement and our vision to continue to improve our community’s quality of life.”
The open house at 1510 Penrose will feature walking timelines with photographs and poster images of Foundation projects accomplished throughout the past 20 years. Food will be catered by Scott Gruhn of Mayflower Community.
The May 10 celebration will also launch a new book about the Foundation’s nationally recognized Community Support Services (CSS) program. Written by Grinnell author Judy Hunter and Gosselink, Nonprofit Collaboration in Grinnell: A Case Study describes the highly successful CSS program that provides administrative services and back-office support to 25 local non-profit partner organizations.
“The book is intended to educate the public about how the CSS program evolved, the growing pains we experienced, and the solutions and collaborations that developed along the way,” Gosselink said. Interviews with several local partner organizations are included in the book. The national Council on Foundations recognized CDAF in 2010 for innovative leadership, bold vision and significant impact in creating the CSS program, which now serves as a model for other community and family foundations.
Gosselink and Hunter will be on site to sign copies of the book, which sells for $14.95 (+tax). A photo booth at the open house will also allow attendees to make bookmarks for the new book and everyone will receive a free gift.
Copies of the first Foundation book venture, “Grinnell’s Entrepreneurial and Philanthropic Pioneer: A Biography of Claude W. Ahrens,” will also be available at the open house. The 2009 book describes Ahrens’ business ventures in hybrid seed corn, playground and recreation equipment and livestock watering systems which led to his “leave it better than you found it” vision as he began to give back to his home community.
Since Claude Ahrens established the initial trust, more than $20 million has been granted to worthwhile organizations and projects throughout Iowa, with emphasis on Ahrens’ home community of Grinnell. Roughly $12 million in grants has been awarded by CDAF, which is now led by the third generation of Ahrens family members including Gosselink (chair), Susan Witt (vice-president), and Chad Ahrens (director).
Examples of recent Foundation gifts and grants include $1 million to the Grinnell High School expansion, $800,000 to Grinnell Regional Medical Center, $500,000 to Drake Community Library, $100,000 to Iowa Valley Community College, $125,000 for Community for Literate Iowa Kids, plus numerous challenge grants to local and statewide organizations.
Annual projects familiar to the local community include the Dolly Ahrens Scholarships to Grinnell High School graduating seniors who are self-directed, responsible contributors to the community, and the "Leave It Better Than You Found It" recognition for local non-profit organizations that have left a mark on the Grinnell community. To date, “Leave It Better” has honored more than 300 area individuals, groups and organizations.
In addition, the Ahrens Park Foundation, established in 1998, owns and operates the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park, which was named Iowa’s top sports complex in 2010 by the Iowa Turfgrass Institute, and the Ahrens Family Center provides local families with childcare solutions through the Grinnell Community Day Care and Preschool and Mid-Iowa Community Action's Head Start program.
The family foundation, established in 1993, was recognized in 2005 as Outstanding Foundation of the Year by the Central Iowa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). An anniversary video about the Foundation’s wide-ranging activities during the past 20 years can be viewed at www.ahrensfamilyfoundation.org.
March 18th, 2013: The results are in, and Grinnellians have a strong, positive impression of their local community. That’s the overall finding of the Build a Better Grinnell assessment conducted by the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation (CDAF) and the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) during the past 15 months.
The Build a Better Grinnell task force, including representation from Grinnell Community Schools, Grinnell College, City of Grinnell, Chamber of Commerce, Poweshiek County Public Health, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Imagine Grinnell, and Mid-Iowa Community Action, began the thorough, three-part assessment process in Sept. 2011 to learn from local residents and in-commuters about what next steps and priorities should be considered for community development.
Several survey types—from random paper toolkits to targeted phone and email surveys—were completed by more than 1,000 community members, including middle school, high school and college students, college faculty and staff, senior citizens, in-commuters, and low income residents.
Nicole Brua-Behrens, Program Coordinator, GPCF, said that the most striking finding from the compiled assessment is the “overwhelming agreement about Grinnell’s strong points.”
“There is wide consensus on quality of life here,” Brua-Behrens said, pointing to survey measures such as promoting community spirit, maintaining community appearance, organizing community events, maintaining involvement of Grinnell College, offering adequate choice of restaurants, providing city services, as well as sports facilities, arts and cultural opportunities, and parks and recreational opportunities.
The goal for the Build a Better Grinnell assessment was to gain residents’ perspectives on areas for future improvement and specific project ideas. The varied sub-groups showed strongest interest in establishing spaces for retail clothing purchases and spaces where teenagers can hang out; improved in-town and out-of-town transportation options; and more affordable, quality housing.
Specific project ideas that emerged included downtown public restrooms, passenger rail service from Des Moines to Iowa City, and public transportation for access to out-of-town services and recreation.
“We want community organizations and groups to use survey results to make informed decisions for strategic planning efforts,” Julie Gosselink, President & CEO of the CDAF, explained. For example, as community groups or the city consider new projects, the organizations can factor in the available assessment information that demonstrates community support.
Brua-Behrens and Gosselink thanked the many individuals and organizations that contributed to the assessment effort and especially cited the expertise and consultation of Grinnell College sociology professor Kent McClelland who summarized the survey results in the final report and Monica Chavez-Silva, Grinnell College Office of Community Enhancement for providing support and consultation throughout the process and Grinnell College student and Ahrens Foundation Apprentice, Ami Shrestha ’13, Anna-Lisa Bowans ’12 and Maddie Gardner ’12 for overseeing the interviews, analyzing the data and writing a user friendly narrative. And finally thanks to Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation Americorps VISTA Volunteer Lucy Thoms for assistance with data management and writing the report.
“As a longtime teacher of statistics and quantitative research methods, I was asked to serve as a technical consultant for this project, and I have been impressed with the hard work of the team who put together this survey and their determination to gather information that will be of real use to the community of Grinnell,” McClelland said. “With data from so many different segments of the community, we can have considerable confidence that the results are a good reflection of the range of views held by community members about the strengths and weaknesses of this community and ways to improve it.
“Overall, the results of this survey confirm that the great majority of Grinnell residents regard their community as an attractive place to live, that Grinnell’s leaders have been doing a lot of things right, and that residents strongly support many of the ideas that have been offered for improving the community in years ahead.”
The Build a Better Grinnell task force members will host public meetings during April so residents can learn about the complete survey results firsthand. Printed copies of the report are available at the foundation offices at Ahrens Park. The full community assessment report is also available from the GPCF website at www.greaterpcf.org and the CDAF website at www.ahrensfamilyfoundation.org. For further information, contact Nicole Brua-Behrens at email@example.com, 641-236-5518.
“Leaving it better” and philanthropic support are perhaps what the Claude and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and Ahrens Park Foundation are most recognized for. What may not be quite as well known is that members of the foundations’ staffs, boards and their families, are literally and physically the hands behind the lifting up in their own monthly “Lend a Hand” program.
Melissa Hull, director of community relations, said, “We created our Lend a Hand program in 2010 as another opportunity for our board, staff and family members to personally connect with our community.
“One of the greatest resources we can give is our time, so throughout each year we identify various volunteer opportunities to participate in. Our goal as an organization is to participate in at least one community service event a month. We have also asked our partner organizations to join us in these efforts,” Hull said.
In recent months, foundation board members, staff and families have volunteered at the Community Meal, Kids Against Hunger, Grinnell-Newburg schools, annual coat drives and Mid-Iowa Community Action’s (MICA) Food Drive, Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS) and local Relay for Life, and by adopting a family at Christmas, just to name a few.
Wendy Kadner of PALS can attest to the value of Ahrens’ staff involvement. “They came with a large group of volunteers and participated in the care of the animals, doing whatever was needed, from walking dogs to cleaning cages. Having those extra hands to give care and attention and to ensure living conditions were appropriate was very helpful. We are thankful for all of the time and attention they gave to PALS,” Kadner said.
There are no requirements on which community project receives Lend a Hand attention. “We just try and determine where and when there is a need and if we can get involved hands on,” Hull said. “We just finished up a coat drive for ‘Keeping Kids Warm’ where we partnered with the Pennysaver and other businesses. We are currently doing a food drive for the months of November and December.”
On Dec. 4, Lend a Hand volunteers cooked and served the Community Meal at Davis Elementary School, which is organized weekly throughout the academic year by the Grinnell College Social Justice Action Group.
Ahrens Foundation accounting manager Michelle Gruhn reflects on what it means to participate in community projects. “The Lend a Hand program gives me a chance to work hands on with many of the non-profits and organizations that I do a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work for. It’s been nice to put a face with the numbers or reports that I work on, and I have enjoyed exposing my family to some of the groups I work with.
“I also like spending time with my co-workers and their families outside of the office setting. It is great to see the young kids enjoy helping and inquiring, ‘when can we do this again?’ The Lend a Hand program has reminded me that although monetary donations to an organization are always welcome, sometimes time and supplies are equally as needed and many times more rewarding.”
Hull encourages other community individuals, businesses and organizations to follow the Lend a Hand example and find ways to get involved. “We know that community service is all about helping others and gaining a sense of human compassion. It can be a very rewarding and enriching experience. It’s also a great way to further a cause, develop new skills and meet people. More importantly, it can make a major difference in our community.”
The Build a Better Grinnell community assessment project, begun nearly a year ago, is entering its third and final phase, according to Nicole Brua-Behrens of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) and coordinator of the survey. The third phase involves what Brua-Behrens terms “oversampling,” or surveying targeted populations that may have been under-represented in Phases I and II.
“The oversampled populations will include high school and middle school students, families served by MICA, and young adults such as Grinnell College students who may depend more on cell phones than land lines, for example,” Brua-Behrens said. “These community members will receive an online survey to complete by October 15, and we strongly encourage their participation so that their interests and ideas are well represented.”
Phase I of the community assessment, completed last spring by local groups and individuals, sought ideas for improvement and potential projects for the future.
Phase II followed in June with a random phone survey to 400 households in the 60+ age-range. Grinnell College student apprentices in local non-profits supervised Grinnell High School students who conducted the phone surveys. The compiled results of the phone surveys are expected to be available by year-end, thanks to analysis assistance from Grinnell College sociology professor Kent McClelland.
The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and GPCF have led the assessment initiative, along with representatives of the City of Grinnell, Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, Grinnell College, Grinnell Newburg School District, Grinnell Police Department, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Imagine Grinnell, MICA, and Poweshiek County Public Health.
Melissa Hull, director of community relations at the Ahrens Foundation, said that themes of interest that emerged in the first two phases included community pride, population diversity, housing, retail and shopping options, transportation, natural resources, and job market availability, among others.
“We appreciate the involvement of all of the community members who have taken the time and effort to reflect on Grinnell’s strengths and areas for improvement,” Hull said. “The assessment results will help to make informed decisions about services that will shape Grinnell’s future.”
Results will be presented initially to City Council later this year. Background on the assessment progress is available at buildabettergrinnell.blogspot.com, or by calling Brua-Behrens at GPCF, 641-236-5518, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF), a statewide membership association of grantmaking foundations, has announced its 2012-2013 board of directors and officers.
Susan Skora, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend in Bettendorf was re-elected chair of the Iowa Council of Foundations and Stacy Van Gorp, executive director of the R.J. McElroy Trust in Waterloo, was re-elected vice chair. Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation in Johnston, was elected secretary and Leah Rodenberg, program manager of the Alliant Energy Foundation in Cedar Rapids, was re-elected treasurer. The ICoF welcomed Dennis Nissen, Iowa foundations director with the Community Foundations of Southwest Iowa in Omaha, NE and Julie Gosselink, president and CEO of the Claude and Dolly Ahrens Foundation in Grinnell, to the board.
Additional members include: Terry Hernandez, executive director of the Chrysalis Foundation in Des Moines, and Jerry Mathiasen, senior vice president of the Iowa West Foundation in Council Bluffs.
Founded in 1998, the Iowa Council of Foundations promotes philanthropy and effective grantmaking in Iowa and serves as Iowa’s Lead Philanthropic Entity. The ICoF members include private/family foundations, community/public foundations and corporate foundations/giving programs that provide grants to charitable projects and programs in Iowa. To learn more about the ICoF or to inquire about membership opportunities, please visit the website (www.IowaCouncilofFoundations.org) or call 515.989.1188.
For more information, contact: Joseph Piearson, Program Coordinator, 515.989.1188, Info@iowacounciloffoundations.org
Iowa Council of Foundations
P.O. Box 13229 Des Moines, Iowa 50310 | Telephone: 515.989.1188
www.iowacounciloffoundations.org | email@example.com
Marking the 100th Anniversary of Claude Ahrens’ Birth
There are lots of reasons to celebrate at the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation this month—the completion of a classroom and playground addition to the Ahrens Family Center, the annual “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award, and a 100th birthday commemoration for the late benefactor.
A public open house on Aug. 17 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Ahrens Family Center will acknowledge these recent accomplishments and honor Ahrens’ legacy.
“Claude would be pleased that his vision is being realized, not only in expansion of the facilities, but in the many programs that we are able to support because of his entrepreneurship and foresight,” said Julie Gosselink, president and CEO of the Foundation. “It’s fitting that we could celebrate all of these exciting improvements in the same day.”
The Ahrens Family Center, which houses Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool, added two new classrooms this spring, plus restrooms and storage areas and new green spaces in an expanded playground.
Kathleen Barnes, who directs the daycare and preschool, said that the addition became a necessity for the school-age program. “As our program has grown, we needed more age-appropriate space. The new rooms are space the children can call their own and grow in,” Barnes said. “The generosity of the Ahrens Foundation to accommodate our growing needs is extraordinary. I continue to be amazed at all of the support the Foundation and this community have given to us.
“We invite the public to stop by during the open house to tour the new addition, our playgrounds and our other classrooms as we prepare for a new school year. We provide a safe, supportive, educational environment for the healthy development of each child from six weeks through fourth grade.”
The Aug. 17 open house, complete with cake and giveaways, will also be the official announcement of the 2012 “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award, which annually recognizes an area non-profit, social, civic, or fraternal community group that works for the benefit of others in the community.
Traditionally, the “Leave It Better” award is announced on Claude Ahrens birthday, Aug. 18, made even more special this year as it marks 100 years since his 1912 birth. His legacy is recalled in the 2009 biography written by Grinnell author Judith W. Hunter, edited by Gosselink, and published by the Foundation. Copies of “Grinnell’s Entrepreneurial and Philanthropic Pioneer: A Biography of Claude W. Ahrens” are available at The Pioneer Bookshop and Gosselink’s Gifts and Interiors in downtown Grinnell, the Grinnell College Bookstore on campus, and at the Ahrens Foundation headquarters at 1510 Penrose.
- Thank You Grinnell Residents for Participating
July 13, 2012: The second phase of the Build a Better Grinnell community assessment project was launched three weeks ago in the form of a random telephone survey. Thank you to all those who patiently answered questions about Grinnell including rating what the community is doing well and where the areas of improvement are and finally prioritizing areas of improvement.
Eleven high school students telephoned residents for several weeks at the Grinnell College phone bank for the Build a Better Grinnell community assessment project. “The high school students were very professional and took their task very seriously” said Maddie Gardner-Grinnell College Apprentice and manager of the student callers. The callers attempted to contact over 2,800 households with 436 households (12.4% of the total households in Grinnell) answering the 10-minute survey.
Why study the community? The assessment was designed to gather feedback from community members about Grinnell’s strengths and areas for improvement in order to help residents and community members make informed decisions about community, economic, social service, educational and philanthropic development that will shape the future of Grinnell.
The first phase was a self-guided focus group tool kit released earlier this year. Information gathered in the tool kits provided a basis for the development of the recent random telephone survey.
The next phase includes oversampling by targeting surveys to five distinct groups and using that data to compare to responses from the recent random telephone survey. Later this fall a report and summary document will be released to the community for use in strategic planning and project development. The task force leading the initiative includes members from City of Grinnell, Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, Grinnell College, the Grinnell Newburg School District, the Grinnell Police Department, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Imagine Grinnell, MICA, and Poweshiek County Public Health. The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation are leading the initiative. Questions about the project can be directed to Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation – 641-236-5518.
The three-day Grinnell Games weekend wrapped up with approximately 900 participants from 13 states, doubling participation from 2011.
“We are thrilled with this year’s participation, doubling in one year is incredible,” said Angela Harrington with the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce. “The Grinnell Games has really turned into a statewide festival, and we are looking forward to growing the event next year.”
On Friday, June 8, 144 golfers competed in the Grinnell Games Golf Tournament. Taking home the $1,000 first place prize was the team of Shane Hart, Nick Kuiper, Peter Marsho, and Jeff Millet sponsored by The Identity Group.
The Family Triathlon included 12 family teams and 22 individuals, of all ages and abilities. The Strawser Family of Grinnell received the $1,000 Spirit Award.
Friday night activities concluded with a BMX/Skateboard competition. Eight skaters and four BMX riders showed off their skills to the crowd. Jared Schlesselman of Grinnell won the BMX competition and Mason Roberts of Pleasant Hill won the Skateboarding Competition.
Imagine Grinnell’s Half Marathon and 5K kicked off the Saturday events with 217 registered runners. In the half marathon, Evan Selsor placed first (1:21:38), Hilary Woodhouse placed second (1:28:39), and Aaron Epps placed third (1:29:17). In the 5K, Nathan Carr placed first (17:55), Mason Doty placed second (18:57), and Steve Feld placed third (19:03).
Thirty-two teams competed in the Amazing Chase scavenger hunt on Saturday afternoon. The $1,000 first place prize went to Ryan Hendrickson and Jamie Durr (1:23). Heather Bergfeld and April Burch placed second (1:24) and Laura Ferguson, Tim Ellsworth and Sam Wiley place third (1:25). The Family Costume Award was given to Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger, Emma Geissinger Cutchins and Beatrice Geissinger Cutchins. Three Partner Costume Awards were presented to Amber Gruner and Laura Hahnfeld, Cecelia Thalberg & Courtney Donohoe, and Robin Carmichael and Holly Killam.
Sixty disc golfers competed in Saturday’s Goose Poop Open. Jay Reading won the Open Division, Scott Innis won the Masters Division, Aaron Chadwick won the Advanced Division, Evan Cobrey won the Intermediate Division, and Karri Haught won the Intermediate Women Division.
The Grinnell State Bank Twilight Bike Criterium had 140 participants in eight categories. Ryan Patrick won Juniors 17-18, Maxx Hall won Juniors 12-16, Dave Lippold won Masters 40+, Jason Anderson won Men’s Cat 5, Nicole Fiala won Women’s Cat 4 & 5, Anne Meyer won Women’s Cat 1, 2, & 3, Joe Peterson won Men’s Cat 4, David Carpenter won Men’s Cat 1, 2, 3.
Julie Gosselink of the Ahrens Park Foundation congratulates Nick Bowerman of Dubuque, IA for winning the inaugural Claude's 5k Warrior Run on June 10, 2012 with a time of 15:52. Nick received a $1,000 cash prize and warrior helmet trophy from the Ahrens Park Foundation, who sponsored and coordinated the event.
The final event of the weekend was the 5K Warrior Run at Ahrens Park on Sunday, June 10. The $1,000 first place prize went to Nick Bowerman with a time of 15:52. Ryan Edwardson placed second (16:46) and Lincoln Larson placed third (18:42). The race had 163 registered runners. Team Monsanto received the Best Costume Award for their Braveheart Warriors theme. The Best Spirit Award was presented to Team Sparkle, consisting of Todd and Shannon Reding, Laura Ferguson, and Patrick and Jennifer Cogley.
The complete results for each event are posted at www.grinnellgames.com.
Next year’s Grinnell Games will take place June 8-9, 2013.
The Grinnell Games, Iowa’s Family Sports Festival, took place June 8-10, 2012. The event was sponsored by Ahrens Park Foundation, Grinnell College, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and Grinnell State Bank. The 2013 Grinnell Games is set for June 8-9.
In honor of what would have been local philanthropist Claude Ahren’s 100th birthday, the Ahrens Park Foundation has added an unusual event to this June’s Grinnell Games: Claude’s 5k Warrior Run.
What sets this event apart from other races are a series of obstacles that require participants to climb, jump, crawl or swing their way along the route through the 100-acre Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park.
“We’re still planning the obstacles, but this race will be fun, with lots of mud and lots of unique challenges,” said Julie Gosselink. “Another great thing about this race is that you can choose how difficult it is. If a challenge looks too tough, you can simply go around it.”
To win any of the race’s prizes, however, participants must complete every obstacle.
“We have a $1,000 first place prize, so we’ll definitely have some elite athletes, but we already have some more casual participants signed up, too,” Gosselink said.
Another unique aspect of the race is the costume contest component. Participants are encouraged to come dressed in their favorite “warrior” costume in honor of the race’s Celtic/Scottish theme, or any other costume they don’t mind getting dirty.
Spectators are encouraged to come out to the park watch the fun and cheer on the athletes. There will be live music, including Grinnell’s very own bagpipe band, Turlach Ur, in a performance that may remind Grinnellians of their infamous RAGBRAI show last summer in Grinnell. More rock music will follow as everyone enjoys delicious food, ice-cold beer and family fun.
Gosselink said that the foundation is also excited because the Iowa National Guard has agreed to help design some of the challenges and bring some real warriors to the event.
“We’re honored the National Guard is going to have a presence there,” she said. “And we’re sure they are going to add some very interesting obstacles!”
Claude’s 5k Warrior Run and the spectator party will be Sunday, June 10 at 11 am, with prizes awarded at 2 pm. Proceeds will support activities at the Ahrens Park Foundation.
For more information and to sign up, visit www.grinnellgames.com/warriorrun.html
Add your piece to the Grinnell puzzle and help us Build a Better Grinnell by Completing the Community Group Toolkit anytime during the month of February. The Toolkit is designed to enable any group of two or more Grinnellians (including residents and commuters) to gather together, talk about the strengths and opportunities for improvement in Grinnell and then submit their feedback. The Build a Better Grinnell Committee will use the responses to help key town organizations determine priority areas for the future. Want more information? Visit buildabettergrinnell.blogspot.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions!
Click here to download your Community Group Toolkit now!
Year-end activities at the Ahrens Foundation include a staff realignment and website relaunch to meet the growing program needs of active community partners.
Pictured from left are Michelle Gruhn, accounting manager and Vanessa Doty, community relations assistant
Michelle Gruhn, who joined the Foundation in 2010 as administrative assistant, has been promoted to accounting manager. Gruhn will support the financial accounting operations overseen by CFO Shannon Fitzgerald. She previously worked for the Ahrens Park Foundation and Grinnell-Newburg Schools and holds an associate’s degree in accounting from Marshalltown Community College.
Vanessa Doty has joined the Foundation staff as community relations assistant in a part-time role to assist Melissa Hull, director of community relations. Doty, an Iowa State graduate, previously worked for Cargill and moved to Grinnell in 2005. She will assist the Foundation’s Community Support Services Program which provides back office services for non-profit partners including: Ahrens Park Foundation, Communities for Literate Iowa Kids (CLIK), Community Education Council, Drake Community Library capital campaign, Galaxy Youth Center, Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, Grinnell Area Arts Council endowment, Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool campaign, Grinnell High School Alumni Association, Grinnell Historical Museum endowment, Grinnell Mutual Aquatic Center capital campaign, Grinnell-Newburg Dollars for Scholars, Grinnell-Newburg Educational Excellence, Grinnell Regional Medical Center endowment, Imagine Grinnell, Iowa Transportation Museum endowment, Kids Against Hunger, Mayflower Foundation endowment, Poweshiek County Empowerment, Second Mile capital campaign, and St. Francis Manor Foundation capital campaign.
Since 2006, the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation has offered shared administrative services, and sustainable workspace to a broad range of local non-profits. The Community Support Services program helps the local partners to collaborate and build organizational capacity by providing critical back office support. By bringing together several key organizations under one roof, the Foundation has created collaborative synergy that has spurred key community projects.
“It is important that we maintain the quality of services we provide and adapt to the ever-changing needs of our non-profit partners. Due to the ongoing growth and expansion of the Community Support Services program, it’s essential that we expand our staff and shift job responsibilities accordingly, while operating and managing the Foundation’s charitable programs and grant-making activities,” said Julie Gosselink, president and CEO. “The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation has invested significant resources in this program to help other organizations advance their missions. It’s the Foundation’s hope that our insight, innovation, and leadership will continue to be a source of inspiration to others in the non-profit sector and the field of philanthropy, especially locally."
The staff addition brings the total to six Foundation staff, including a Grinnell College student apprentice; three Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation staff; and three Imagine Grinnell staff in the office on north Penrose. Gosselink said that minor renovations will be made to make the existing office space more efficient for the increased workload and expanded capacity.
The Foundation’s website will also get an upgrade—a new look and the addition of a community calendar—to convey the many program changes. “Beginning January 1, our partners will be able to use the site’s new planning tools and announce their activities such as board meeting dates and fundraising events on the community calendar,” Gosselink said. The community calendar will be updated weekly and will also include activities and events that occur throughout the year at Ahrens Park. The website relaunch at http://www.ahrensfamilyfoundation.org/index.html will also include a video tutorial on the history of the Foundation and Ahrens Park.
Gosselink said that the administrative offices will be closed during the final two weeks of the year—the Foundation’s busiest of the year— “to accommodate some of the new building renovations, close the contribution year, perform donor and partner year-end tasks, and begin planning for next year’s activities.” The Foundation recently announced contributions to the Grinnell College Preschool and Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool building projects.
The Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS) has met a $10,000 matching challenge presented by the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation. With more than $16,000 raised between September and December, PALS more than exceeded the challenge. "We take pride in supporting local organizations like PALS who have such a strong volunteer base and are able to leverage other resources in the community to achieve funding support," says Julie Gosselink, president and CEO.
The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation challenged PALS to raise $10,000, with the foundation matching all donations dollar for dollar up to that amount. More than 180 donors helped the organization surpass the goal.
“It is amazing to see the tremendous community support PALS received to meet this challenge,” says Rich Gogg, PALS president. “PALS is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the challenge. We truly appreciate the support from the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, and want to thank our community for helping PALS raise so much money.” Gogg adds, “PALS will receive more than $26,000 which will help us continue to care for the stray and unwanted animals of our county.”
PALS is a non-profit animal shelter located just south of Grinnell at 4167 20th Street. The shelter is completely community and grant supported.
Anyone interested in more details about PALS may call 641-236-4288 or visit www.HelpPalsAnimals.com.
To read more about the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, visit www.AhrensFamilyFoundation.org.
GRINNELL, IA — Area preschoolers who attend the Grinnell College Preschool Laboratory just got a new playdate—the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation.
The Foundation, which supports Grinnell community projects in education, health, and parks and recreation, will contribute $41,000 to the new preschool’s playground and recreation area. The playground equipment installation brings the new facility in the 1000 block of Park St. one step closer to opening in late January, at the beginning of second semester.
“Our founder, Claude Ahrens, believed in recreational experiences for children beginning at early ages. This gift honors his legacy and our mission of community development and recreational opportunities,” said Foundation President Julie Gosselink.
The preschool, directed by Karen Veerhusen-Langerud, serves approximately 50 local children each year and is a real-time laboratory for approximately 100 Grinnell College psychology students who observe and interact with the preschoolers for introductory coursework. An additional 20-40 upper-level college students conduct developmental psychology research projects there.
The new $1.75 million preschool laboratory, expected to be completed by January 23rd, features areas for large and small motor skills, a classroom with in-floor heating, an observation room, meeting and research spaces, and an entryway with open courtyard.
Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement for the college, expressed the importance of community partnerships in projects like the new preschool. “The Ahrens Foundation gift is a wonderful example of the productive collaborations we are fortunate to have in Grinnell. We are very grateful to the Foundation for recognizing the benefits of this new high-quality facility for our community’s preschoolers and in support of inquiry-based learning by our psychology students.”
The popular laboratory program is currently housed in a 1970s-style building at 1207 Park St. which will be removed next summer. Furnishings and materials will be moved into the new building during winter break.
After school fun in Grinnell received an early holiday gift from the Ahrens Park Foundation. At a groundbreaking on Dec. 6, the Foundation officially announced a construction project at the Ahrens Family Center that will add two new classrooms for the center’s school-age program, new restrooms and storage areas, and new shaded areas in an expanded playground.
Kathleen Barnes, director of the Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool, said that the growing K-4 school-age and summer program needed “permanent, private space to call home.” The after-school program currently serves 40 students in the center’s open gymnasium, and with the new addition will have dedicated quarters.
“We’re excited for the possibilities with age-appropriate playground facilities and classrooms,” Barnes said. “Our hope is to be in the new space in time for our summer program.”
The Ahrens Family Center opened in 1994 to house the daycare and preschool, and the school-age program returned in 2009.
Julie Gosselink, president of the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, said that the building addition will be funded by the Ahrens Park Foundation, which operates Ahrens Park, Ahrens Family Center and Grinnell Athletic and Recreation Center. Construction will begin immediately to the south of the current center for the 2000 sq. ft. addition, which totals 4000 sq. ft. with the roofline of the expanded shade and awnings.
“One of the features of the new project is green space with an awning for shade for the existing and new playground,” Gosselink said. “We developed the construction plans to preserve and extend green space for outdoor activity and a garden for the kids to learn from. These green spaces are an important part of the Ahrens Park Foundation’s recreational and wellness objectives.”
Melissa Hull, director of community relations for the Ahrens Foundation, said , “It's crucial for the center's after school and summer camp programs to have efficient space of their own. The current set up is limiting and ineffective for the center's growing needs. The expansion and additional playground equipment will allow the school-aged program to evolve and develop new opportunities that they couldn't do in the past because of space limitations. "
The daycare and preschool currently has a $150,000 fundraising campaign underway for technology upgrades, classroom libraries, playground equipment, furnishings and equipment, and staff training and development. Barnes said that she expects that campaign, which is currently two-thirds complete, may be extended to accommodate equipment, furnishings , for the new addition. “We are extremely grateful for the Ahrens Park Foundation’s willingness to support e center as family needs change,” Barnes said.
The City of Grinnell and the Ahrens Park Foundation has partnered to create additional recreational opportunities for Grinnellians. The City's Parks & Rec Department has recently moved to the Grinnell Athletic & Recreation Center (GARC) at Ahrens Park.
Seniors have always walked at the GARC for free prior to the city's move. With a recent grant provided by the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, seniors will continue to walk for free. It was Claude's vision to always provide a free indoor space for the seniors of our community to remain active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation has recently announced a $30,000 challenge grant to jumpstart the Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool center's fundraising campaign for technology upgrades, classroom libraries, playground equipment, furnishings and equipment for two new classrooms, and staff training anddevelopment. Grinnell College is joining us in supporting the campaign by extending our challenge with and additional $30,000, bringing the total one-for-one matching grant to $60,000.