Iowa Great Places Grant Guidelines
Iowa Great Places seeks to cultivate the local character and authentic qualities of Iowa neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions. At its core, the program embraces ‘creative placemaking’, or the approach of building upon local creative and cultural assets to build more livable communities and vibrant public places. 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 through the development of artistic, creative, cultural, and historic assets.
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 Citizen Advisory Board. Applicants must adhere to the funding policies of the Iowa Arts Council.
August 15 | Pre-Application Opens
August 18 | Pre-Application Informational Webinar Available
September 20 | Pre-Application Deadline
The deadline to submit a brief online pre-application for grant funding for projects that involve the design or construction of eligible vertical infrastructure is 11:59 PM, September 20, 2022.
October 4 | Invitation to Submit Application
Eligible applicants invited to submit the full application for grant funding will be notified by October 4, 2022. 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. DCA staff will be conducting community/project site visits in October to communities invited to submit a full application.
November 2 | Application Deadline for Invited Applicants
The deadline to submit an online, invitation-only application for grant funding is 11:59 PM, November 1, 2022
December| Funding Decision Notification
Applicants will be notified of funding award decisions in December.
January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2025 | Funding Period
All project activities and incurred expenses must occur within the eligible contracted funding period of
January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2025. Funding is awarded to grant recipients on a reimbursement basis after expenses have been incurred for approved project activities.
Funding and Endorsement
Designated Iowa Great Places have the opportunity to compete for grant funding to support eligible types of vertical infrastructure projects and expenses. Projects that seek to develop cultural assets will receive priority.
Eligible projects must be integrated with a shared community vision and set of strategies, involve significant public/private partnerships and collaboration, and focus on the development of local and regional cultural assets.
Designated Iowa Great Places are currently limited to funding for one application, per designation period, regardless of whether the project is fully or partially funded. Funding eligibility may change with additional program funding.
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 Citizen Advisory Board reserves the right to withhold awarding 100% of the available funds.
Designated Iowa Great Places may submit a project for endorsement on a rolling basis to be reviewed at quarterly Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board meetings. Projects submitted for funding during the Iowa Great Places full application process will automatically be considered for board endorsement regardless of the funding decision.
Grant Request Amount
Grant awards are made on a case-by-case basis by the Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board. For informational purposes only, from fiscal years 2017-2022, grant awards ranged from $31,380 to $400,000 with an average grant award of $217,243.
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, 2023 - December 31, 2025. 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.Applicant Requirements.
A single entity must be selected to serve as the primary applicant for grant funding for the proposed projects, including 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 required material, and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of an agreement if awarded 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.
For the FY23 grant cycle only, eligible applicants must be a currently designated Iowa Great Place that has not yet received funding for a project within their current designation period.
Eligible applicants must be one of the following types of entities.
- 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 an Iowa Great Places grant during their current designation 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 the 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 the 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, including vision plans, project concept renderings, public art plans or cultural master plans
- 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, heritage, humanities or sciences.
The program requires that the grant request and cash match be dedicated to eligible vertical infrastructure project expenses, legitimate parts of the proposed project, and incurred and expended within the eligible funding period. Applicants may identify supplemental project expenses that occur before or after the eligible funding period, or that are otherwise not eligible to be part of the grant request or cash match in the application; however, supplemental expenses may not be included in the grant request nor required cash match. Applicants that include ineligible expenses in the grant request or required match will be considered ineligible.
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 Citizen Advisory Board members. The Iowa Great Places Citizen 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 cultural assets
- 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 the 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 45 points. Each applicant may submit one application which will be scored to determine if it meets the standards of consideration for Iowa Great Places funding.
|PROJECT DESCRIPTION: 3 points possible|
|3 Goals of the project are exemplary, well-defined and clearly integrated with the vision plan.||2 Goals of the project are satisfactory and address the vision plan.||1 Goals of the project are inadequate, unclear or do not relate to the vision plan.|
|CONNECTION TO CREATIVE PLACEMAKING: 3 points possible|
|3 Goals of the project clearly embrace creative placemaking, or the approach of building upon local creative and cultural assets to||2 Goals of the project address creative placemaking, or the approach of building upon local creative and cultural assets.||1 Goals of the project do not clearly address creative placemaking, or the approach to building upon local creative and cultural assets.|
|UNIQUE AND AUTHENTIC QUALITIES: 3 points possible|
3 Project reflects the unique and authentic qualities of the designated area and will clearly elevate a diverse mix of local assets.
2 Project reflects the qualities of the designated area and will elevate at least one local asset.
1 Project does not reflect the qualities of the designated area and does not elevate local assets.
|PROJECT PRIORITIZATION: 3 points possible|
|3 Prioritization of the project is well-defined. Selected project reflects a clear local consensus, sense of timing and momentum.||2 Prioritization of the project is addressed. Selected project reflects some degree of local consensus, sense of timing and momentum.||1 Prioritization of the project is inadequately addressed. Selected project reflects no clear local consensus, sense of timing or momentum.|
|COMMUNITY IMPACT: 3 points possible|
|3 Project is bold and innovative and will act as a catalyst to support economic and tourism growth in the community.||2 Project has some innovative elements and may act as a catalyst to support economic and tourism growth in the community.||1 Project is not bold or innovative and will not act as a catalyst to economic and tourism growth in the community.|
|STATE IMPACT: 3 points possible|
|3 Project is of statewide significance and will benefit Iowans and tourists.||2 Project is of regional significance and will potentially benefit Iowans and tourists.||1 Project is of local significance only and/or will not benefit Iowans and tourists.|
|PUBLIC ACCESS: 3 points possible|
|3 Target population for the project is well-defined and its relevance to the project evident. Equitable public access to the project is strong with clear and deliberate plans for accessibility and promotion to target population.||2 Target population for the project is identified. Equitable public access to the project is satisfactory with plans for accessibility and promotion.||1 Target population for the project is unclear. Equitable public access to the project is unclear or inadequate.|
|PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION: 3 points possible|
|3 Confident the project will be successfully realized through strong implementation objectives supported by a clear timeline of activities and current cost estimates. Project location is ideal as demonstrated by clear, relevant criteria and a well-defined process is in place for acquisition of land, construction, major renovation and repair, site development, or permanent installments.||2 Project is achievable through identified implementation objectives and a timeline of activities. Project location is practical as demonstrated by criteria, process or cost estimates in place for acquisition of land, construction, major renovation and repair, site development, or permanent installments.||1 Concerns about project achievability. Implementation objectives and timeline of activities are inadequate. Rationale for project location is unclear. Criteria, process or current cost estimates are not in place for acquisition of land, construction, major renovation and repair, site development, or permanent installments.|
|PROJECT PARTNERS: 3 points possible|
|3 Project is supported by diverse funding, advisory and logistical partners. Key partner roles and responsibilities are well-defined and will enhance the project.||2 Project is supported by funding, advisory or logistical partners. Key partner roles and responsibilities are identified.||1 Project is supported by minimal partners. Key partner roles and responsibilities are unclear or not identified.|
|PROJECT EVALUATION: 3 points possible|
|3 Project uses strong qualitative and quantitative measures to analyze achievement of goals and implementation. Project has appropriate methods in place to collect data on evaluation measures.||2 Project identifies methods or measures to analyze achievement of goals or implementation.||1 Evaluation methods and measures are weak, inadequate or unclear.|
|PROJECT BUDGET: 3 points possible|
|3 Project budget and intended use of requested funds are clear and appropriate.||2 Project budget and intended use of requested funds are identified and adequate.||1 Project budget and intended use of requested funds are unclear or inadequate.|
|BUDGET DIVERSIFICATION AND LOCAL SUPPORT: 6 points possible|
|6 Project demonstrates exemplary financial support by leveraging diverse sources of cash match, including local government (city or county) and private sources.||3 Project sources of applicant match are identified and include adequate support from either local government or private sources.||1 Project sources of applicant match are unclear or inadequate.|
|MEDIA AND LOCAL SUPPORT MATERIAL: 3 points possible|
|3 Media and local support material is highly relevant to the projects, of high quality, and clearly supports the projects’ excellence. Materials include documentation from the local government in support of the project.||2 Media and local support material relates to the projects and is of average quality. Materials include documentation from the local government, but support of the project is weak or unclear.||1 Media and local support material is not relevant to the projects, is of poor quality or does not support excellence of projects. Materials do not include documentation from the local government in support of the project.|
|CASE FOR SUPPORT: 3 points possible|
|3 Case for support is exemplary and merits investment from the State.||
2 Case for support is adequate.
|1 Case for support is inadequate or does not merit State investment.|
Glossary of Terms and Definitions
Applicants should refer to the glossary for clarification of program terms and definitions.
Potential applicants are encouraged to review all published material and contact Program Manager, Arts in Community Development Jon Berg at 515-242-6195 or firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions well in advance of application deadlines.