116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Big Grove Brewery awards $32,000 to Iowa nonprofits
Plans to expand giving to Linn County in 2024 with new location
IOWA CITY — Big Grove Brewery has awarded $32,000 in grants to four Iowa nonprofits in Johnson and Polk counties.
The four organizations, selected from 40 applications, will receive $8,000 each: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa, Central Iowa Shelter Services, the Free Lunch Program of Iowa City and Iowa City Coralville (ICOR) Boxing Club.
“Giving back to our communities is central to our mission at Big Grove,” said Mikala Demet, Big Grove Iowa City’s community coordinator. “Our grant program is an intentional and meaningful process and we look forward to extending the program to Linn County in 2024.”
The latter two organizations were chosen to have the most impact in the Iowa City area, Demet said, and give great opportunities for Big Grove staff to volunteer and get involved.
“It’s a great way to engage staff with organizations in our community,” said Janelle Buxton, director of communications for Big Grove Brewery. “We know $8,000 isn’t much to some, but to others, it could make or break their operating budgets for the year. Whatever we do, we want to make a significant contribution to their project or program.”
When it started in Solon 10 years ago, community giving was a central part of Big Grove’s mission. Then, it gave to schools, the fire department and Solon Beef Days. With Big Grove’s expansion to Iowa City, it grew to monthly nonprofit donation nights where sales from the Iowa City location benefited local organizations.
Now, the brewery’s philanthropic Big Grove for Good Program earmarks proceeds from sales to give back to causes in communities where Big Grove and its employees live, work and play. The program’s primary tenets focus on environmental issues like water quality, trees and trails, in addition to equity and equality issues in the communities that the taprooms are located in.
“As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve seen the opportunity for a more intentional model, shifting giving to specific areas to make a larger impact within environmental causes, equity and equality, and our backyards,” Demet said.
The opening of their Iowa City location allowed greater brewing production capacity, making way for cause-related beers like the Equalitea Sour Ale, which benefits the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in an annual release around International Women’s Day on Wednesday. The Greener State of Mind pale ale is brewed in partnership with GreenState Credit Union for an environmentally-focused recipient, and Rainbow Connection is brewed to raise funds for Iowa City Pride.
“Just like Big Grove's business is food and entertainment for the whole family, our business is boxing for the whole family,” said Emily Klinefelter, U.S.A. boxing coach and gym administrator for ICOR Boxing Club. “A partnership with your organization is a great fit.”
In addition to boxing training and competitions for all ages, ICOR hosts free community workouts for nonprofits.
The Iowa City Free Lunch Program (FLP), the other Johnson County recipient, has been serving nutritious meals since 1983 — no questions asked. Over 40 years, it has grown to 900 volunteers serving over 30,000 meals annually in Johnson County.
“For FLP, success is being able to maintain services in the face of rising costs, particularly rising food costs,” the organization said in a statement. “The consistency with which FLP serves meals has made lunches a necessary staple in many guests’ diets and is taken seriously by making sure we offer nutritious foods."
With construction already underway for Big Grove’s next Cedar Rapids location, Linn County nonprofits will be eligible for grants in the next cycle, in addition to Johnson and Polk counties. Applications for the 2024 grant cycle will be evaluated starting Nov. 28.
Big Grove Brewery is among the top craft beer producers in Iowa and ranks in the top 3 percent for barrel production nationally.
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