Public Safety

School district's Rachel Rockwell to lead SET Task Force grant effort

(FILE PHOTO) Deaunna Kimble, 17, signs a pledge against gun violence at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.  (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) Deaunna Kimble, 17, signs a pledge against gun violence at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A school district official has been hired to oversee a grant program intended to implement recommendations identified in a monthslong examination of systemic causes of youth violence in Cedar Rapids, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation announced Wednesday.

The foundation appointed Rachel Rockwell on Monday to the part-time position of program officer to facilitate awarding grants from the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Fund, or SET Fund. The foundation announced $40,000 would be available through an initial grant cycle for summer programs.

“Rachel’s experience precisely meets the needs of this community-convening work,” Karla Twedt-Ball, a senior vice president at the foundation, said in a news release. “She has many established relationships with our partners and nonprofit organizations, and we look forward to introducing her to many more.”

The job includes convening partners in identifying projects; assisting with project development and proposal submission; leading the grant-awarding process and committee; and providing analysis and monitoring of funded projects, according to the foundation. Separate committees will set policy and award the grants.

Rockwell will continue her role as the Cedar Rapids school district community coordinator, according to the foundation. She has also served as a business development consultant for nearly 15 years to a variety of organizations and served as the county education director at the Iowa State University Agricultural Extension for Linn County.

“This grant opportunity is designed to find innovative ideas, to test new models, and to explore what works and what doesn’t,” Rockwell said in the news release. “I am looking forward to the possibilities.”

Last fall, the Cedar Rapids Community School District, city of Cedar Rapids and Linn County, along with the foundation, announced a $225,000 annual fund overseen by the foundation, including at least $150,000 awarded through grants and up to $59,000 for administrative costs.

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The intention was for a three-year annual commitment of $150,000 each from the city and county and $25,000 from the school district.

Wednesday’s announcement comes two years after the release of the SET recommendations and nearly a year of debate among the public agencies.

“The hiring of Rachel Rockwell certainly marks a milestone achievement for this ambitious initiative,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who helped lead the SET effort. “We’ve added another capable professional with strong ties to the community to our team. Her leadership ability will be critical for our first grant cycle this summer where we hope to empower organizations that bring innovative solutions to the table, while learning about how our model can be more effective in the future.”

The deadline to apply for summer grants is 4:30 p.m. March 27. The goal is to support six to eight projects with an emphasis on engaging youths and young adults disproportionately exposed to violence in homes, neighborhoods and schools. More information is available at https://www.gcrcf.org/grants/.

A planning session related to the grants is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. March 11 at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Those interested can RSVP at surveymonkey.com/r/SETSummer.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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