Supporting community is a shared effort. Luckily, there are many different ways to plug in! You might volunteer your time: building homes, serving food, helping animals, cleaning public spaces. Maybe you’re able to commit to shopping locally and directly supporting your town’s economy. Or perhaps you choose to support causes you believe in with a monthly or yearly donation to a nonprofit that reinvests in your area.
In these pages, you’ll find a few of the hardworking nonprofits in the CRANDIC that fight day in and day out to make this a more livable place. These groups rely on donations and volunteer hours from community members like you who share that vision.
You’ll also learn about some independent retailers that bring a thoughtful and unique product mix to local shoppers. These businesses depend on shoppers’ dollars to continue to adapt, thrive and improve the community themselves.
It’s essential that these nonprofits and retailers receive year-round support. But end-of-year giving and holiday gift purchases can provide a much-needed boost into the new year. This winter, find a new favorite cause to support in our donation drive or knock out some gift shopping at a small business you can be proud to live near.
Founded in 1957, the Arc of Southeast Iowa fosters communities of respect and inclusion for people of all abilities through advocacy, support and service. The Arc of Southeast Iowa is a local chapter member of the state and national organization, but is a separate and independent 501c3 nonprofit, providing services to more than 400 individuals with intellectual, developmental and other related disabilities and their families within an eight-county area in Southeastern Iowa.
The Arc’s programs are growing! The facility on Muscatine Avenue, in Iowa City’s Towncrest Neighborhood, is going through construction and renovations to expand the inclusive daycare/preschool program. This will allow the Arc to more than double that program’s capacity. The entire facility will become the Bill Reagan Children’s Center, with administrative offices and adult programming moving to another location nearby. Once construction is complete, existing children and teen programming will be able to expand into the Children’s Center, also allowing for growth and opportunity for afterschool, group respite and camp programs. The additional rental space is also allowing the day habilitation program to further develop and increase opportunities for adults.
The Arc of Southeast Iowa was formed by families and professionals interested in the welfare of children and other individuals with disabilities. These families joined a budding movement advocating for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc has a proud history of “finding a way” to meet needs in the local community.
Bur Oak Land Trust works to permanently protect native prairie, woodlands and water corridors in Eastern Iowa, providing safe spaces for
animals, insects and plants to flourish.
Bur Oak staff, volunteers and AmeriCorps members increase biodiversity by removing invasive plants, surveying for different species, replanting native seeds after prescribed fire and
trail building that allows people to enjoy the spaces without disturbing the natural landscape.
By providing free access to 13 natural spaces, primarily in Johnson County, Bur Oak is connecting community members to native Iowa landscapes through education and fun activities for anyone to enjoy.
In 2023, Bur Oak Land Trust will celebrate its 45th anniversary! The organization will kick
off an array of exciting events with a First Day Hike on Jan. 1 at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.
Register online at buroaklandtrust.org. Community financial support provides funding for Bur Oak’s AmeriCorps land management and conservation education team. Individual contributions, planned gifts, employer-based matching gift programs and business sponsorships allow Bur Oak to continue protecting land for the future.
Email email@example.com for volunteer opportunities and how to join the AmeriCorps team.
CommUnity, based in Iowa City’s South District, is a volunteer-driven organization that provides immediate and non-judgmental support for individuals facing emotional, food or financial crisis. It was founded in 1970 and serves thousands of clients annually.
CommUnity’s roughly 200 staff members include Crisis Helpline Services counselors, who can provide emotional support to all Iowans through the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline via text, call or chat. Mobile Crisis Response provides in-person crisis counseling to homes, schools or any location in Johnson or Iowa counties where a mental health crisis occurs. Financial Support provides Johnson County residents with housing and utility assistance, career-enabling items, ID assistance, temporary mailing addresses and more. The Food Bank at Pepperwood Plaza provides grocery assistance to those facing food insecurity.
The program has found that many area residents know them only by one aspect of their services (and aren’t aware of the others). But the wide variety of offerings are approached as a single effort.
“All of our programs work together to provide a holistic approach to crisis,” said CommUnity’s Emma Huntzinger. “Our goal is to disrupt the cycle of crisis. Clients experiencing a financial crisis are likely also struggling with their mental health and food insecurity, so it’s important to stop the cycle and provide support wherever the client needs it.”
The Coralville Community Food Pantry is an anti-hunger nonprofit organization providing critical and innovative food assistance services to the greater Coralville community. Founded in 2009, CCFP believes that food is a human right, and that food has the power to bring people together. The vision of the organization is to build a stronger, healthier, and hunger-free Coralville community.
CCFP is in the process of moving into a newly constructed and direly-needed Food Pantry facility. The larger and perfectly customized space will allow expansion of existing programming and new projects aiming to increase food access and build community in innovative ways. This infrastructure enhancement comes at a time when the prevalence of food insecurity in our community and throughout the State of Iowa is at an all-time high.
When visiting the Food Pantry or placing a home delivery order, members are invited to freely choose from an extensive selection of non-perishable staples, fresh produce, meat, eggs, dairy, plant-based proteins and milks, ready-to-eat meals, bread and pastries and non-food items such as diapers, menstrual products, condoms, soap, shampoo, toilet paper and pet food. Additional programming includes free community meals, a community fridge, school break nutrition support for kids, a seed library and a local fruit and veggie prescription program.
Crowded Closet was founded in 1978 with a mission to share God’s love and compassion in the name of Christ by supporting Mennonite Central Committee world relief, service and development programs, as well as local community relief agencies. Located in Iowa City’s South District (851 Hwy 6 E, Unit 101), the thrift shop provides Iowa City, Coralville and surrounding communities a sustainable, philanthropic alternative for both donors and shoppers. Donors know gently-used items will be transformed to help others — assistance to local families with the help of organizations like CommUnity and giving to Mennonite Central Committee to support relief, development and peace around the world. Shoppers enjoy accessible prices and the treasure-seeking fun of thrifting.
The “special spark” at Crowded Closet, said Julie Birky, is “the spirit of love and compassion” embodied by its 350-strong volunteer community. Crowded Closet is structured to promote volunteer engagement, which opens doors of connection, purpose and community building.
Since the shop’s relocation to Pepperwood Plaza, Crowded Closet is finding that many new people are discovering it for the first time. But its mission has remained steadfast since its founding: to share love and compassion, and support the global work of Mennonite Central Committee, with the power of a neighborhood thrift shop.
The mission of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program is to provide comprehensive support and advocacy services to victim/survivors, focusing on immediate and long-term safety, empowerment, dignity, and hope. In collaboration with the community, DVIP strives to end domestic abuse through education, accountability and social justice. Founded in 1979, DVIP served 2,415 victims/survivors in FY22 in Johnson, Iowa, Cedar, Washington, Henry, Van Buren, Des Moines and Lee Counties.
DVIP provides services including safety planning, housing assistance, legal advocacy, emergency shelter and hotline and more. Coming up next is the annual Souper Bowl, February 2023 (details coming soon!). The org offers advocacy and safety planning around all aspects of intimate partner violence and has mobile advocacy, emergency shelter and hotline available 24/7/365. DVIP does so much more than provide emergency shelter. Advocates work to meet clients where they are.
The Friends of the Iowa City Senior Center was founded in 2006 to raise funds to support the valuable mission of the Iowa City Senior Center, which is to enhance quality of life by creating opportunities to support wellness, social connections, community engagement and lifelong learning for a diverse and growing older adult population. Serving 1,500 adults aged 50 and older each year, the group boasts an annual economic impact of $118,000 on the strength of a staff of just eight volunteers.
In addition to ongoing programming, the near future holds a renovation project for the Senior Center, helping to maximize its capacity to provide opportunities for older adults to stay active, curious and connected. While people often assume the Iowa City Senior Center is a nursing home, that’s a misconception. It’s actually a community recreation center designed specifically for older adults. The Center itself is located in downtown Iowa City, but serves the entire community and beyond.
Iowa Abortion Access Fund (IAAF) is dedicated to the belief that the freedom to choose legal abortion should be available to everyone. Founded in 1978 in Cedar Rapids, IAAF is the second-oldest abortion fund in the U.S. Every year, IAAF helps hundreds of Iowa and Quad Cities residents who would otherwise not be able to afford an abortion. In the past three years, IAAF has provided over $300K in assistance to residents of Iowa and the Quad Cities region, serving an average of 479 callers per year (2019-2021).
The sole function of IAAF is to provide funds to callers who need support paying for a safe abortion. IAAF coordinates with clinic staff to confirm the appointment and sends payment directly to the clinic to be applied to the caller’s bill. Community support makes this work possible. Aside from one part-time staff member, IAAF is entirely volunteer-run. One-time gifts and sustaining monthly support are the best ways to support their mission to ensure reproductive freedom and access for all. Learn more or contribute today at their website.
With a mission of Connecting People Who Care with Causes that Matter, Iowa Shares is a coalition of social change, environmental and cultural nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Iowa. Iowa Shares, founded in 1995, makes a direct impact on the communities it serves through research, education, advocacy and direct service.
Based in Iowa City, Iowa Shares serves 10s of thousands of Iowans through its member organizations, many of which (such as ACLU Foundation, Trees Forever and I-RENEW) are statewide. In eastern Iowa alone, its member organizations (such as Girls on the Run, Environmental Advocates, Linn County United Nations Association, Quad Cities World Affairs Council and QC Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Center for Worker Justice and the Quire) serve thousands. Communities served include civil rights and human rights advocates, immigrants, environmentalists, those interested in international cooperation, LGBTQI, women, racial minorities, animal welfare workers and pet owners.
Iowa Shares operates with just one half-time employee and 12 regular volunteers, plus additional volunteers who step in as-needed. Its main focus is workplace charitable campaigns, which bring in around $68-72,000/year on average. Iowa Shares is frequently asked, “Why don’t more people know about you?” and the organization is actively trying to raise its profile to just that end.
The Mercy Hospital Foundation supports Mercy Iowa City with designated initiatives for patient care area improvements and impact. The Foundation’s staff of two engage in approximately 280,000 patient encounters per year. Coming up next, the Foundation has plans for breast cancer technology improvements.
Myth: STEM is not for everyone. Myth: diversity in STEM is not a problem. Myth: BIPOC-owned businesses have everything they need to succeed. These are all common and false misconceptions around our community’s need to address racial equity in STEM education and economic development.
Based in Iowa City, the Multicultural Development Center of Iowa has a mission to address racial equity and inclusive economic development for historically underrepresented, disadvantaged and underserved members of our community. MDC Iowa programs work to remove barriers that limit access to tools, technology, training, mentors and support.
MDC Iowa, founded in 2017, operates three locations and several programs entirely through the efforts of 10-15 community volunteers. All are welcome, and the organization serves all communities in Iowa, with a “local first” focus that emphasizes underserved, underestimated and historically disadvantaged community members in Johnson County.
In the coming year, MDC plans to invest in more equipment that BIPOC entrepreneurs and small business owners can use to accelerate the growth of their business. This equipment will be part of the expanded use project at INNOV8 idea Lab, the first community-based makerspace in Iowa.
As a nonprofit organization it has been challenging for MDC to educate the community to understand the impact that its programs have on degree and career pathways for BIPOC students, youth development and economic growth. What does it take to make change? Time, talent, and treasury from allies.
One Iowa, a Des Moines-based nonprofit serving LGBTQ Iowans since 2005, seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQ Iowans by protecting and advancing equality and inclusiveness through education, improving workplace culture and increasing access to quality healthcare across the state.
One Iowa takes a comprehensive approach to ensure LGBTQ Iowans are respected in every facet and stage of their lives. The organization trains workplaces and healthcare facilities on LGBTQ best practices, provide inclusive resources to LGBTQ folks across the state, work with community partners to ensure the work it does is rooted in intersectionality and prioritize efforts to serve trans and nonbinary Iowans.
With five staff members, and serving 10-15,000 clients each year, One Iowa is in the beginning stages of planning a Midwest LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference for Fall 2023 that will bring healthcare professionals from around the region together to learn how to best serve LGBTQ patients.
Public Space One (PS1) is an artist-led, community-driven, contemporary art center that aims to:
• provide an independent, innovative, diverse, and inclusive space for making and presenting art,
• produce unique programs that stretch boundaries and present diverse perspectives,
• provide resources for artists and cultural educational opportunities, and
• advocate for the importance of art in everyday life for any and everyone.
• Process & Experimentation
• Art & Artists’ Work Relationships
Founded in 2002, PS1 bridges downtown Iowa City with three locations, two on North Gilbert (225 & 229) and one on South Gilbert (538).
Dec. 1 is the start of PS1’s 20th Birthday celebration! The Surreal House installation involves completely transforming the PS1 Close house into an immersive, if festively illogical environment, for December and January (please inquire if you’d like to host a strange holiday party for your team/family/etc between Dec. 22-Jan. 28). Alongside this transformation PS1 will be hosting an array of programming celebrating artists and people who made its first 20 years successful (and weird!). Highlights will include: PS1 Assembly (our annual membership convening, Dec. 1), Art Market (at Big Grove, Dec. 8), Dada Prom (an absurdly extravagant costume party, Dec. 10) and an array of other events including music, comedy and even Dickens & Donuts (Dec. 17).
PS1 operates with a broad definition of art and does programming that often pushes at many sides of it, from art installations to punk shows to mutual aid projects to social practice and any/all points in between. This makes it hard to categorize. “If we feel a bit mysterious,” said John Engelbrecht of PS1, “it may be because we value a multi-vocal, grassroots, inclusive approach and don’t ascribe to a cookie-cutter definition of what a contemporary, community arts organization should be.”
A great city deserves serious theater. Theater that sparks discourse, builds community, delights, inspires, breaks down barriers and explores the complexities of the human spirit. Riverside Theatre strengthens the cultural fabric of Iowa City through intimate, engaging productions from classics to new works, fostering a deeper appreciation for the dramatic arts.
In January 2022, Riverside opened a new 150-seat theater in the heart of the Ped Mall, offering audiences an ever-expanding selection of programming including world premieres, classics, educational programs and cabarets. In addition, Riverside’s Summer Shakespeare in Lower City Park has been a staple of Iowa City’s Summer cultural scene for 22 years, performances that are now completely free for all members of the community.
Riverside’s 42 seasons were made possible thanks to our community’s continued investment, so visit their website today to make a donation and help keep this Iowa City institution thriving for generations to come!
Founded in 1983, Shelter House operates with the mission to provide safe shelter and help people improve the quality of their lives as they move beyond homelessness.
Shelter House serves individuals and families experiencing, at risk of or exiting homelessness. This includes those for whom homelessness has become a chronic occurrence as defined by HUD, those having an acute experience of homelessness, those fleeing domestic violence, veterans, individuals with mental health conditions and those living in extreme poverty (between 0-30 percent of Area Median Income).
Its staff recently opened 501 Southgate, a 36-unit apartment building for individuals exiting chronic homelessness (a HUD definition that includes a diagnosis of at least one serious and persistent mental or behavioral health disorder). 501 has ground floor offices and meeting rooms as well as on-site services for tenants including case management, a clinic offering mental health care, physical health care and mental health counseling.
Tenants are housed without condition, meaning they are not required to engage in services; rather, they do so when and if they are ready.
Research and practice show that the solution to ending homelessness is simple: a home. And the quickest way to end homelessness is to offer affordable, accessible housing. Not after achieving sobriety. Not once someone can maintain employment. Before anything else. Because it is nearly impossible to address other problems without a safe place to rest at night.
With five staff serving more than 2,000 clients annually, the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (based in West Branch) has worked toward the mission of permanently protecting Iowa land to grow healthy food since 2014. SILT’s primary focus is on beginning and under-resourced table food farmers as well as landowners wishing to leave a legacy.
SILT just launched a statewide Circle Our Cities campaign to circle 10 Iowa cities with 10 permanent food farms in 10 years, beginning in Des Moines and Dubuque. People often think SILT has to convince people to farm a certain way. On the contrary, the org seeks landowners and farmers who already believe in the power of diverse, ecologically-based table food farming then start the conversation about preserving that land for the future.
Systems Unlimited, Inc. (SUI) has provided support to people living with disabilities and mental health needs for over 50 years. SUI’s mission is to partner with the people served to advance their personal independence, dignity and growth.
Based in East Central Iowa, SUI serves people in their home and work life. Currently, SUI works with approximately 400 people and has around 950 staff. All services are based on each person’s needs and preferences. Supported Living staff provide daily living skills support, mental health management, medical needs and social support while encouraging the person to be as independent as possible. Services can range from 24-hour support in a home operated by SUI to drop-in services.
SUI holds day programs in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City where people served can build friendships, volunteer and visit area attractions. Many people served by SUI receive assistance with seeking and maintaining community employment. Currently, 55 area businesses employ people served by Systems.
If you’d like to help support individuals with disabilities and mental health needs to live rich and connected lives, visit the website for more info on how to help.
Founded in 1996, Table to Table keeps wholesome, edible food from going to waste by collecting it from donors and distributing to those in need through agencies that serve the hungry, homeless and at-risk populations. T2T’s five full-time and two part-time employees work out of their South District Iowa City office to recover and deliver food to 45 Johnson County organizations, serving thousands of neighbors.
The organization recovers about $6 million worth of food each year, which is distributed free of charge, supporting crucial community programs by reducing partners’ food expenses so they can use those funds to meet other needs or enhance their services. This year, T2T hosted a second season of Free Produce Stands, collaborating with food pantries, neighborhood centers, youth programs and other partners to distribute fresh, locally-grown produce at free produce stands close to where people live and work.
The food T2T distributes is not only food that’s close to the “best-by” date. A large amount of food comes directly from producers, processors and distributors, including excess produce at local farms, milk from local creameries, and food from warehouses and food transport trucks. This wholesome food would otherwise have entered the waste stream for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to mislabeling, incorrect amount or item ordered, or simply more produced than can be sold.
The YPN mission statement—creating a network of support through education and resources, to build confidence and personal accountability for healthy and successful families—has led to 2,440 individuals served in FY22 through YPN programs and 958 families through the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank, which has given out 169,012 diapers in FY22. YPN provides prenatal, parenting and early childhood comprehensive programming for expecting parents and those with children ages 0-5, including: weekly group meetings, home visits, multi-lingual services, literacy initiatives, community resources and referrals. All participants earn points to the YPN We Care Shop, an incentive-based, 100% donation supplied/funded store where families can get diapers, clothing, toys, baby care items, books and more.
Since 1985, YPN has been based in Cedar Rapids, serving Linn, Jones, and Benton/Iowa counties. There are 18 staff who supported 634 volunteers serving 3,778 hours in FY22 and 2,560 shoppers in the We Care Shop.
Among YPN’s current initiatives, the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank just got a Mobile Diaper Bank, which will allow distribution to reach those who have transportation barriers (eidiaperbank.org). The Parents As Teachers Short-Term Home Visit program was recognized with an Accreditation plaque by Iowa Family Support Credential. Multi-lingual and cultural families are an ongoing focus, including English, Spanish/English, French/Swahili and Pashto/Dari. And YPN collaborates with local organizations Tanager Place and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Corridor in the YouthPort program, which continues to see growth and extends services and referrals to reach more families in the area (youthport.org).
Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Davenport
Do you ship? Yes
Get your own, then tell it what to do ($24) For over 10 years, this shirt has been raising money for Planned Parenthood North Central States as well as Access Funds in the Midwest. Unfortunately, we seem to be going in the wrong direction, in a lot of ways. Wear this shirt, or support reproductive health directly with your money or vote!
The Rosé Room
107 5th St, Coralville
Lash extensions, microblading, brow shaping, Lash lift and tint, Full body waxing (Price range: $15-200) Feel holiday ready with semi-permanent custom lashes or brows. Or give the gift of beauty and relaxation with a gift card. The Rosé Room offers 20% off all services for first time clients! The Iowa City area’s premier lash and brow bar.
117 E College St, Iowa City
Do you ship? Yes
Striped Beanie ($36) This beanie is warm, it’s versatile and it supports access to abortion for all. A portion of all of Revival’s proceeds goes to support the Emma Goldman Clinic and the Iowa Abortion Access Fund.