Our Iowa Hub is anchored by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

Strong schools are essential to strong rural communities, which is why the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque facilitates initiatives focused on issues of student achievement and building bridges between schools and communities. Jason Neises, Community Development Coordinator at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, serves at the hub contact for Iowa.

With affiliate foundations across the seven-county Dubuque region, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has a long history of building trusting relationships with leaders in rural communities to chart clear paths forward that address complex social challenges, from academic achievement to economic opportunity.

RSC Team with Jason Neises in Bellevue, IA

As the Community Development Coordinator for the Community Foundation, Jason Neises has witnessed firsthand how rural communities can rally together to achieve common goals. "We’re hoping to build people’s perceptions beyond themselves or their small circles. For example, we encourage people to consider how all aspects of the community benefit from a strong local school,” Neises explains.

By bringing key stakeholders, such as local schools, in rural towns together, Jason and his team are reaffirming and strengthening the bonds between place, people, and education. He shares that whenever the Community Foundation partners with local towns to launch a development initiative, "every single town says that their schools are an asset."

As RSC’s Iowa hub, the Community Foundation will continue to support thriving rural communities, and enhance the vitality of rural education by bridging local generosity, ingenuity, and leadership with efforts like teacher training and place-based learning.

Sparking Change through School Innovation

Dreaming BIG for People and Place in Bellevue, Iowa

Inspired by the Community Heart & Soul town development project launched in Bellevue through a partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, the Bellevue School District transformed their offerings to focus on people, place, and students' future careers.

Tom Meyer, superintendent of Bellevue School District, is an ardent collaborator in the town’s development efforts, and believes that the district shares responsibility to contribute to the cause. “I try to emphasize that we are a community school,” Meyer explains. More than just school administrators and staff, Meyer also shares that he encourages students to be active participants in the community’s ongoing efforts, inspiring some to continue this work into college.

In response, the Bellevue School District transformed elements of their classroom content to offer innovative and engaging learning options for students to conduct community-minded, personally-relevant classwork.

One such change was the creation of Bellevue BIG, a project-based education center in downtown Bellevue that allows students to create and lead passion projects that teach them in-demand skills and fill community needs.

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