City Council issues $100,000 challenge grant in support of 1105 project

The 1105 Project gets a new source of funding by virtue of the Iowa City City Council.
Iowa City Councilor Kingsley Botchway toured the new facilities at 1105 Gilbert Court last week, led in part by DVIP Director Kristie Fortmann-Doser. — photo by Shauna McKnight

There’s never been a better time to support The 1105 Project thanks to a resolution passed last week by the Iowa City City Council.

The Iowa City City Council voted 6-0 last week to approve a challenge grant in support of the newly opened social services hub, which plays host to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Free Lunch Program, Crisis Center of Johnson County and Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

According to the City Council’s resolution, the city will donate $100,000 to The 1105 Project if an additional $200,000 is raised in the next 90 days. The city’s donation would be paid in increments of $20,000 over the next five years, and if the $200,000 fundraising goal is not met, the city will prorate its donation based on the amount actually raised.

“I almost fell off my chair,” said 1105 Project Capitol Campaign Chair Sara Langenberg, referring to the moment she first learned of the proposal. Langenberg initially wrote to the City of Iowa City requesting a gift of $50,000, and says she was taken aback when city officials countered with an even better deal.

It’s the City Council’s hope that this challenge grant will help the 1105 Project reach its fundraising goal of $1.25 million. The project has raised about $930,000 from more than 650 donors thus far, according to Langenberg, which is being used for much-needed renovations and furnishings.

With the City of Iowa City chipping in for every dollar raised, Langenberg says the value proposition has spurred renewed interest from potential donors, some of which have been on the fence until now. Donations made today are worth more than they ever have been thanks to the challenge grant, and the need for client services in the Iowa City area cannot be overstated.

“These agencies are a bridge for people who unexpectedly in many cases find themselves in a very difficult situation,” Langenberg said. “And the goal, obviously, is to get them back on their feet as soon as possible with the resources available here, which would not be possible without donations to the agencies.”

Langenberg says that although the social service collaboration is based in Iowa City, the resources it provides extend well beyond city limits. About 20 percent of agency funding goes to Coralville residents alone, she says, but the outreach doesn’t stop there.

“Agency directors have told me of people coming in from smaller communities — Muscatine, Tiffin, Lone Tree — for some of the services that aren’t available in their communities,” she said.

Having toured the facility on January 16, Iowa City Councilor Kingsley Botchway said, “Here’s a perfect example where collaboration works and is helping people not only on the residents’ side but also from the non-profit side as well, as far as being able to provide more resources to a lot more people.”

Botchway notes that there are thousands of people volunteering in the Iowa City area, most of whom go unrecognized.

“They don’t get a chance for ‘bragging rights’ so to speak,” he says. “They do it because they just feel the need to do it.”

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In light of these unrecognized volunteers, Botchway says that it was important for the City Council to show support by virtue of the newly issued challenge grant. The City has previously supported the project through $288,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

“There’s so much going on here and you hope you can duplicate that and use it as a model in other places,” Botchway said. “From our perspective, it at least shows the public that we understand the community needs and are willing to support the community needs when called and asked to.”

The challenge grant’s three-month fundraising period began Tuesday, Jan. 14. For more information on the 1105 Project the four social service agencies it represents, visit

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