| By Rachel Seidl |

In 2012, the CFSWIA was established, but it wasn’t until 2014 that they made their first grant. In the four years since that first grant, the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa (CFSWIA) has established a grant program and watched it grow.

In its initial year of grant giving, the CFSWIA awarded one grant to the Faith Journey Program. Since then, the number of grant applications has increased to thirty-three, and the amount of money given in grants has increased to $50,000. In just four short years, this grant program has helped to do so much.

In 2017, the CFSWIA awarded St. Clare, located in Clarinda, Iowa, with a grant. They had a need for a new public address system inside of the Church.

“The old system had many ups and downs and challenges. Sometimes when we’d be celebrating Mass, you’d get echoes, deafening echoes, from nowhere. People would be closing their ears because the sound was jarring,” said Reverend Eze Venantius Umunnakwe, Pastor at St. Clare’s. He said, “You could trip over it and get injured, and the Church would be in trouble.”

St. Clare is now equipped with eight speakers spread throughout the upper and lower levels of the Church, along with wireless microphones. “We are happy with the results. So are our ears,” said Reverend Eze.

In the same year, CFSWIA gave a grant to the St. Thomas More Center (STMC) that has helped to pay for safety equipment such as life jackets and high ropes safety equipment. This safety equipment consists of things like harnesses and helmets.

Current Executive Director at the STMC, Alex Kautzky, says, “That was crucial to everything that we do here.” This grant award also helped to pay for worship equipment that allows participants to sing along during Mass and follow along with the readings.

In 2018, the STMC was awarded with a grant that purchased a camera that has and will continue to promote STMC’s Catholic Youth Camp (CYC) digitally and professionally. Additionally, the grant helped to sponsor campers who come from lower-income families and refugees. These kids were able to learn about and grow in their faith through their week spent at CYC.

Any Catholic parish, school, or organization within the Diocese of Des Moines is able to apply for a grant through the CFSWIA. Once applications are collected, award recipients are decided by the CFSWIA Board of Directors.

Applications for the current grant program are open and posted on the Catholic Foundation of Southwest Iowa website. Applications are due on February 25th, 2019. For additional guidelines, important information, or the application, visit www.catholicfoundationiowa.org/grant-program/ or contact Rachel Seidl at [email protected].