In 2017, the City Council created the Social Justice and Racial Equity (SJRE) Grant to assist community-based organizations in building capacity to address social justice and racial equity needs. In Fiscal Year 2019, the City tripled the SJRE Grant funding, allocating it $75,000 yearly since then.  

The grant is available to for-profit and non-profit Iowa City-based organizations to fund programs, activities, or services that help eliminate inequities in the community. The grant lists six priority service areas: education, building community, housing, criminal justice, health, and employment. Organizations whose programs, services, or activities address one or more of these priorities are considered first for funding.

FY2021 SJRE grant recipients

Open Heartland $14,749: To serve youth, preschool to high school, through enrollment in free out-of-school time Kid Power programs. The programs will include youth development activities including nutrition and health education, drug and violence prevention, arts and music programing, physical fitness and wellness curriculum, financial literacy, and meaningful engagement of parents/caregivers in their children’s education and development. The programs will be offered to all youth living in mobile home communities including Forest View, Hilltop, Lake Ridge, Cole’s, Regency, Modern Manor, and Breckenridge.

University of Iowa Labor Center $20,000: Will  provide 1) outreach and orientation workshops to connect members of underrepresented groups with high-quality job training opportunities, 2) two sessions of a new preparatory skills-based apprenticeship readiness course for local residents interested in qualifying for a registered apprenticeship, 3) direct connection of participants who complete the pre-apprentice program with eastern Iowa apprenticeship training coordinators, and 4) access to leadership development and peer support networks to ensure the success of women and people of color who enter registered apprentice programs as underrepresented persons. The goal of the network is a sustainable system for bridging significant gaps between high-quality apprenticeship opportunities and Iowa City residents who are underrepresented in skilled trades.

Sankofa Outreach Connection $15,000: The Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy’s goal is to empower young women of color in the Iowa City area through culturally responsive curriculum and exposure to higher educational opportunities. The Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy will work to strengthen, empower, and equip young women of color to understand the individual, institutional and structural impact of racism and sexism. Programming will include community service projects, after-school programming, college preparation, and the summer enrichment institute, which will expose them to the value of Historically Black Colleges & Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. The young women will be exposed to an ethnic studies and social justice curriculum, which includes a combination of African American studies, Latino/a studies, Native American Studies, and Women and Gender studies. The program will expand student’s current knowledge of people of color on a high school level while also equipping students with tools to create social change across digital platforms.

Food Pantry at Iowa $6,075: Will purchase culturally relevant and diverse foods to have available for clients of the Food Pantry at the University of Iowa. The Food Pantry at Iowa will expand the pantry’s ability to provide food for communities of color. Pantry managers will continue to source culturally diverse products from local Iowa City African and Oriental Markets, and Chong’s Supermarket.

Bike Library $4,000: Raise It Up Route Series will honor historically significant locations, those significant to the Black community today, and Black-owned businesses in Iowa City. The goal is to guide riders to each site with an audio guided tour and to educate riders on the history of systemic oppression in Iowa City, as well as the current inequities that continue to oppress. There will be four routes in the series, each with three to five sites woven into an approximately 10-mile bike ride. The educational audio component for each site/checkpoint will be narrated by Black community leaders. The series of four bike routes can be ridden self-guided or on rides offered 1-2 times each month guided by volunteers or special guest guides. There will be an accompanying playlist of Black artists, musicians, and poets that can be listened to while en route via a speaker or after the ride while refueling at one of the Black-owned restaurants highlighted. There is a digital companion story map, which will highlight each site, provide directions, and house the educational audio tour. 

Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition $15,000: Will take inventory of specific housing needs and issues from BIPOC/low-income residents and provide advocacy training at the household level. This will be accomplished in two parts: 1) a household assessment: to take inventory of specific housing needs and issues from BIPOC/low-income residents and contribute to advocacy at the household level to develop the understanding of housing issues to inform future policies and work, and to provide direct services/information to survey participants. The assessment will implement a door-to-door intake approach. 2) Community advocacy training for community members: to increase BIPOC/low-income residents’ capacity to engage with housing issues and advocacy so that community members from this group are prepared to take leadership and advocacy roles within community non-profits/government agencies/commissions and facilitate change.

Visit for more information about the SJRE FY2021 award recipients' projects. 

Date of publication

Wednesday, April 07, 2021