2020 Grant Guidelines
The Iowa Great Places program seeks to recognize communities that take action to enhance their local places while staying true to the qualities that make them unique. Designated communities have demonstrated a vision that values their assets while challenging themselves to set realistic goals for advancing their quality of life. The program provides Iowa Great Places designation and the opportunity for funding of supported vertical infrastructure projects as defined by Iowa Code 8.57. The program goals are to cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions in order to make them great places to live and work through professional development training; technical assistance opportunities; a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders; and access to other state and local resources. In addition to designation, the program supports projects that are integrated with a shared vision and set of strategies, involve significant partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional assets in the following areas:
- Arts and Culture
- Entrepreneurial incentives for business development
- Historic Fabric
- Housing Options
- Natural Environment
The program, defined in Iowa Code 303.3C, is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board. Applicants must adhere to the funding policies of the Iowa Arts Council.
September 18, 2020 | Pre-Application Deadline
The deadline to submit an online pre-application for grant funding is 11:59 PM, September 18, 2020.
September 25, 2020 | Invitation to Submit Application
Eligible applicants invited to submit an application for grant funding will be notified by September 25, 2020. An invitation to submit a full application is neither a guarantee of funding nor an endorsement of the applicant or project by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. All applicants will be notified of their status at this time.
November 2, 2020 | Application Deadline for Invited Applicants
The deadline to submit an online, invitation-only application for grant funding is 11:59 PM, November 2, 2020.
December 18, 2020 | Funding Decision Notification
Applicants will be notified of funding award decisions by December 18, 2020.
January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2023 | Funding Period
All project activities and incurred expenses must occur within the eligible contracted funding period of January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2023. Funding is awarded to grant recipients on a reimbursement basis after expenses have been incurred for approved project activities.
Designation & Funding
Iowa Great Places Designation: Requirement for Funding Eligibility
Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions are awarded Iowa Great Places designation as a point of civic pride. Designation may be used in signage and marketing material to promote the area. Newly designated Iowa Great Places are added to the Iowa Great Places network on an annual basis through a competitive application process. Once designated, networking, professional development and technical assistance will be provided to designated places by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Designated places also receive additional consideration by other state agency programs for endorsed projects for three years post-designation. Additional state agency consideration is limited to up to three projects proposed through the fall grant funding application cycle and does not apply to the spring designation application. Designated Iowa Great Places must complete a re-designation process every five years at which point they can present new projects for endorsement and potential funding.
Expectations After Designation
Following designation, communities are expected to be active members in the Iowa Great Places network. In order to demonstrate active participation and continued commitment through the re-designation application process, designees must have participated in more than two qualifying Great Places meetings, events or professional development opportunities as determined by Iowa Great Places staff within the five-year designation period. Such opportunities may include an annual meeting, regional networking opportunities, webinars or sponsored state conferences hosted by partner state agencies. Additionally, all designated Iowa Great Places must be willing to be active participants in the Iowa Great Places mentoring program for potential or new designees as needed. Mentors and mentees will be matched by Iowa Great Places staff based on community similarities or geographic proximity. The mentorship structure will be flexible based on the needs of the mentee and can include but is not limited to application advice, visioning best practices, in-person visits or conference calls.
In addition to the benefits of designation, each designated Iowa Great Place has the opportunity to receive grant funding for a single project during each five year designation. Once designated, Iowa Great Places may request funding during the fall grant cycle for one proposed project during each of the first three years of their designation until funding is received. Reviewed project proposals that are not awarded funding may receive endorsement by the Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board and be eligible to receive three years of additional consideration from partner state agency programs.
Funding for the Iowa Great Places Program is made possible by an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board reserves the right to withhold awarding 100% of the available funds.
Grant Request Amount
Grant awards are made on a case-by-case basis by the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board. From fiscal years 2016-2020, grant awards ranged from $31,380 to $400,000 with an average grant award of $227,355.
Applicants are required to demonstrate investment in projects by providing a minimum of 1:1 cash match. The cash match must be secured, dedicated to eligible vertical infrastructure expenses, a legitimate part of the proposed project and must be expended within the eligible funding period. The 1:1 match requirement may be raised through a combination of public and private sources but may not include in-kind donations of goods or services, unsecured funding or loans. While the minimum match requirement is 1:1, competitive proposals will demonstrate broad-based financial support for their project and that public funding sources have been adequately leveraged to seek and obtain private dollars.
- Cash match constitutes actual cash contributed to direct project expenses by the applicant or other funding sources.
- Funding from state government that is already being used as a match for another program, including other funds from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, cannot be used to meet the match requirement.
All project activities and incurred expenses must occur within the eligible contracted funding period of January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2023. Funding is awarded to grant recipients on a reimbursement basis after expenses have been incurred for approved project activities within the eligible funding period. Expenses that are incurred before or after the eligible funding period are not eligible for reimbursement.
A single entity must be selected to serve as the primary applicant for both designation and grant funding for future proposed projects involving collaboration between a consortium of partners. The selected entity must meet the definition of an eligible applicant. The applicant will be responsible for submitting eligible material during both the designation and funding application processes and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of an agreement if awarded designation or funding. Partners and collaborating entities are not subject to the eligibility requirements, but may be subject to financial and programmatic review during the selection process.
Eligible applicants must be a current designated Iowa Great Place within the first three years of their designation period and have not received funding for a project within their current designation window. Eligible applicants must be one of the following types of entities. Entities who do not meet these requirements are not eligible to apply.
- Federally tax exempt nonprofit organization incorporated and physically located in Iowa
- Physical location is defined as maintaining a current home office and registered agent address in Iowa defined by Iowa Code 490.501, as well as maintaining a primary staff presence physically located and working in Iowa
- Unit of local, county or federally-recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa
- Municipal agencies with 28E agreements physically located in Iowa
The following types of entities are not eligible to apply.
- Unit of state or federal government
- For-profit or commercial entity
- Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees who have already received a grant for the current application funding period
- Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees who have an outstanding final report or who have been placed on a department funding moratorium
Project & Budget Requirements
Iowa Great Places funding supports eligible vertical infrastructure expenses that are essential to the completion of proposed project. An eligible project must involve the creation or renovation of vertical infrastructure for the benefit of the public. Applicants may request funding for a project that is tied to a community vision and strategic plan. All project activities must have a clear beginning and end date within the eligible funding period. Examples of eligible projects include but are not limited to development of cultural facilities and amenities, public art, building rehabilitation, way-finding signage, mixed use developments, and streetscape enhancements.
Eligible Project Activities & Expenses
- Land acquisition
- Major renovation and repair of buildings or appurtenant structures
- Site development
Ineligible Project Activities & Expenses
- Lease of a building or appurtenant structures without a lease-purchase agreement
- Operational expenses
- Ongoing utilities
- Projects that occur prior to or after the funding period
- Routine, recurring maintenance
- Stand-alone planning and design phase of project
- Construction of recreation-related structures like splash pads, sport facilities and trails unless cultural elements are embedded in the project. Cultural is defined as pertaining to the arts, humanities or sciences.
Online Application Submission
Applicants must submit applications via the Iowa Arts Council’s SlideRoom, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants can access the current online application requirements at iowaartscouncil.slideroom.com. Applicants must create a login to view the full application requirements for the program. Applicants can visit help.liaisonedu.com for SlideRoom assistance related to the online submission.
Submitted pre-applications are reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published guidelines. Pre-applications are reviewed as submitted. New information or subsequent clarification submitted after a program deadline is not considered. Staff will also review an applicant’s record of compliance and good standing with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, State and Federal government. Applicants submitting pre-applications determined to be eligible will be invited to submit a full application to the program. Pre-applications or applicants determined by staff to be ineligible or incomplete will not be invited to submit full applications and are specifically denied any appeals process. Applicants may review the department appeals policy for information on grounds for appeal and the appeal process.
Full Application: By Invitation Only
Full applications will be reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published guidelines. Applications are reviewed as submitted. New application information or subsequent application clarification submitted after a program deadline is not considered. Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a volunteer panel that will include Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board members. The Iowa Great Places Citizens Advisory Board reserves the right to recommend conditional funding and partial funding of initiatives. Funding recommendations will be submitted by the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board to the Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration and approval. The applicant’s authorized official will receive award notification. All funding decisions are final and may not be appealed due to dissatisfaction. Applicants may review the department appeals policy for information on grounds for appeal and the appeal process.
Pre-applications must demonstrate evidence of the following:
- Proposal demonstrates a commitment to the development of local or regional assets in the areas of arts and culture, historic fabric, architecture, natural environment, housing options, amenities, entrepreneurial incentive for business development and/or diversity
- Proposal project is related to the guiding vision plan and interrelated set of strategies supported by multiple partners as presented during designation
- Applicant has a prioritized project that can be completed within funding period
Full Application Review – Invitation Only
The Iowa Great Places Scoring Rubric will be used to evaluate full applications. Each section has criteria and corresponding point values to ensure a fair review process. The rubric is on a scale of 50 points. Each applicant may submit one project which will be scored to determine if it meets the standards of consideration for Iowa Great Places funding. Each applicant may submit an additional two projects for determination if they meet the standards of consideration for Iowa Great Places endorsement.