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First Grant from CFNEIA's Racial Equity Fund Awarded to Black Hawk County Public Health

October 8, 2020

The Black Hawk County Public Health Department has received a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s (CFNEIA) newly established Racial Equity Fund. This is the first grant awarded from CFNEIA’s Racial Equity Fund, which was established by CFNEIA board of directors to support initiatives moving Black Hawk County toward racial equity.

The grant supports phase two of the Black Hawk County Public Health Department’s systems thinking project which identifies and describes behavior that perpetuates inequity in income, education, health outcomes and vulnerability rooted in current systems in Black Hawk County. The CFNEIA grant matches a $30,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, which also provided initial funding of $125,000 for the project through its Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative.

“To have the support of a local foundation like the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa is tremendous,” said Dr. Nafissa Cisse-Egbounye, Black Hawk County Public Health Director. “This grant, along with the incredible support of the Kresge Foundation, gives us energy to keep moving forward in addressing inequality in Black Hawk County.”

Phase one of the systems mapping project utilized qualitative data and community participatory research to identify how a system contributes to current levels of inequity in Black Hawk County. The inquiry identified community strengths such as education, diversity, and a willingness to put in work to accomplish outcomes. The inquiry also identified the current system perpetuates financial exclusion, maintains inequities, and sustains racial inequality. Phase two will assist with the transformation of the public health system and allow the Department to work with community partners to develop cross-sector initiatives to address inequities.

“The work of the Black Hawk County Public Health Department to address inequity in a transformative way is providing powerful information and leading to solutions that will help create a community where all people can thrive,” said Kaye Englin, CFNEIA president and CEO. “We are honored to be a partner in this community effort through this grant from the Racial Equity Fund.”

The systems-based approach offers information showing how changes to one part of the system impacts other parts of the system, both positive and negative. This narration of what happens when changes to systems are made provides an opportunity to make balanced, informed choices to create greater equity. It also provides a starting point for broader community conversations.

“In order to address inequities in Black Hawk County, we have to do it as mutual partners to achieve solutions that achieve real outcomes for our residents,” said Dr. Cisse-Egbounye. “Inequalities in our system are affecting all of us. It’s important we all contribute to move the needle forward.”

CFNEIA’s Racial Equity Fund was established as a resource for projects moving our communities toward racial equity. Grants from the fund will support nonprofits addressing racial justice issues and serving diverse groups of people, programs engaging members of the community in advocacy and promoting racial equity, education and training to help create more inclusive communities, and initiatives that explore solutions to ending racism. Gifts to the Racial Equity Fund can be made at or can be mailed to CFNEIA, 3117 Greenhill Circle, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. Questions regarding the fund can be directed to the Foundation office at 319-287-9106 or

For more information on the Black Hawk County Public Health Department visit their website at

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