Local nonprofits make up an important part of the business community. We're highlighting several that have a hand in solving one of the most pressing issues in the region: workforce availability. Consider supporting nonprofits that are developing and upskilling today and tomorrow’s workforce, or that serve as a community resource to support the workforce.
Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC)
The Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) provides accessible, comprehensive behavioral health services delivered with dignity, respect and professionalism to reduce the impact of substance use and gambling disorders. Their services follow the continuum of care beginning with substance abuse and problem gambling prevention and moving through the various levels of treatment and recovery services.
ASAC is one of the oldest and most comprehensive substance use disorder treatment and prevention agencies in Iowa. Treatment services like those offered at ASAC maximize the potential for a successful long-term recovery. Individuals acquire the skills, resources and supports to gain and maintain employment, stable housing and independent living. This has a substantially positive impact on not only the individual and family unit, but also on the entire community that interacts with the family each day, and on the business economy. ASAC also provides prevention services to workplaces, including educational programs and consultation on substance-related workplace policies. Outpatient counseling and support groups are offered so that working individuals are able to continue their treatment while maintaining employment.
Catherine McAuley Center
While the Catherine McAuley Center's programs serve distinct populations-- immigrants, refugees, and women experiencing crisis-- they are united by a common purpose of promoting the well-being and dignity of individuals in need and helping people achieve greater stability, community inclusion, and improved quality of life. Named for the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, a group that also created Mount Mercy University and Mercy Medical Center, CMC has grown to be a place known for offering hope and life-changing services to more than 700 individuals each year.
The nonprofit offers services to women experiencing homelessness and healing from trauma through its transitional housing program. Immigrants and refugees have access to multiple supportive and educational services such as free English as a Second Language instruction, as well as classes on citizenship, civics, math and computer skills. More than 450 learners are served each year through these classes and programs. They also provide refugee resettlement services, employment education and job seeking support, in-home child care business development training, and resource navigation to over 250 refugees and immigrants each year.
Local employers can partner with the Catherine McAuley Center to connect with individuals who recently sought refuge in the U.S. and are seeking employment, and can help with their transition into a new job. The Catherine McAuley Center recently purchased a new building that is four times the size of their current location and plans to occupy it next year at the conclusion of a capital campaign.
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo)
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) is a 501(c)(3) organization located in the New Bohemia neighborhood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. NewBoCo’s programming supports entrepreneurship, innovation, and tech education to help Iowans become more resilient and thrive in a changing economy.
NewBoCo helps new companies grow in our community through its Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA). Since 2014, ISA has invested in 41 companies. These companies have created more than 100 jobs and have raised over $14 million to date.
NewBoCo helps existing organizations in Iowa learn how to think like startups through its Intrapreneur Academy. In Intrapreneur Academy, teams of 3-8 people go through a year-long training program on innovation practices, methods, and strategies supporting faster company growth. Small local businesses, large corporations, nonprofits, and local government organizations have all participated in Intrapreneur Academy.
Neighborhood Finance Corporation
Neighborhood Finance Corporation Cedar Rapids (NFC CR) is a not-for-profit and licensed Iowa mortgage lender providing unique home loans and lending programs to facilitate neighborhood revitalization in Cedar Rapids. NFC CR opened an office in Cedar Rapids in October 2018 and closed its first loan January 2019. The organization is a partnership between the City of Cedar Rapids, local financial institutions, the business community and neighborhood organizations.
Data from the latest Comprehensive Housing Needs Update prepared for the City of Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids will need 1,081 new housing units in the next two years. From 2020 to 2030, the local housing market is projected to gain 7,375 households that will need housing. National and local data indicates that the majority of these housing units will need to be workforce housing, meaning they’re affordable to households earning between 60-120% of the area median income.
The housing supply of homes in the $130,000 to $200,000 price range is very low. Yet, there are homes in our neighborhoods that are contributing to blight and aren’t selling due to the significant repairs needed to provide safe housing. NFC CR is working to preserve existing housing and strengthen neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids through purchase-renovation and home improvement loans.
This year, NFC CR celebrated more than $1.25 million in investment. NFC has helped 32 borrowers purchase and/or renovate homes in seven Cedar Rapids neighborhood lending areas.
Young Parents Network (YPN)
YPN (formerly Young Parents Network) creates a network of support through education and resources, to build confidence and personal accountability for healthy and successful families. The nonprofit was locally founded in 1985 by community leaders who recognized an unmet need for expectant and parenting young women. Since then, programming has grown to include services for fathers, as well as culturally specific programming for the Latino and African immigrant/refugee populations. In addition to prenatal and parenting group offerings, YPN provides participants with home visitation services and access to the We Care Shop, YPN’s incentive-based store.
The organization uniquely adds value to the local business economy through the education and support of participants who are working and raising their families in the Cedar Rapids metro area. 70% of participants are employed, and YPN offers employment education presentations on a variety of career-related topics including job search and resume building. Further, YPN partners with Kirkwood Community College's 'Pathways for Academic Career Education and Employment' program, which provides academic, personal and financial support to individuals who are currently earning a wage lower than a livable wage for their family.