EP Award Promo

Paving the way for private higher education in Iowa


The Iowa College Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports Iowa’s private colleges and universities through scholarship and research programs, is looking to rebound from a 17 percent decline in corporate donations last year as it celebrates its 50th anniversary during the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

Founded in 1952 with the assistance of Iowa’s business community, the ICF has provided more than $53 million to private college and university students and research programs. During its tenure, ICF officials say, 24 member colleges and universities have received at least $1 million from the foundation and 10 members have received more than $2 million.

Because the ICF solicits funds from businesses, foundations and individuals on behalf of private higher education, it also feels the pinch the declining stock-markets are putting on corporate America, said one official.

In 2001-2002, the ICF raised nearly $2.4 million, including approximately $106,000 in endowment gifts, from 968 donors. Those numbers were down from the 2000-2001 fiscal year, in which it received nearly $2.9 million, including $217,000 in endowment gifts, from a total of 1,057 donors. Still, the non-profit group maintained 31 scholarship programs, including the Carver Scholarships, the Let’s Keep Iowa Students in Iowa Challenge Program, the Coca-Cola First Generation Student Scholarship Program and the Minority Scholarship Program.

President John Amato said even though the ICF saw important gifts reduced or not renewed last year, he said the overall total was also influenced by a time gap in which he took over his position and some donors made contributions following the deadline for last year’s fiscal year. He said the number of small donations and the level of support have remained fairly steady, but in light of last year’s declining markets and the after-effects of 9/11, the size of corporate gifts was lower than years past.

“Companies are squeamish about stock prices, and since most of their ability to give relies on profits, they’re waiting to see how much money they can give away depending on the stock market,” Amato said.

Though many large companies and industry groups donate to the ICF, including Principal Financial Group Inc., UPS, Hormel Foods and the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Amato said the bulk of donors are small businesses found in small and medium-sized cities.

“We have 26 campaign areas in the state, and we rely on everyone from rural areas to big cities,” Amato said.

The ICF has established a fund-raising goal of $3 million for the 2002-2003 fiscal year. Amato said he wants to deliver his group’s message loud and clear to donors around the state and can do so even though he’s trying to keep fund-raising costs below their 10 percent annual average. He plans to put on more than 40,000 miles on his car while touring the state – that’s almost 1,000 miles for each of the 44,000 Iowa students who attend private colleges and universities.

“My goal is to make sure there are enough scholarships to support our students and schools,” Amato said.

One of the selling points Amato will use is to remind Iowa businesses that if they invest in Iowa’s students, they are investing in potential employees. Fifty-five percent of the student body of ICF member schools come from Iowa and 90 percent of those students receive some type of financial aid. More important to businesses, Amato said, almost three-fourths of those students stay in Iowa after graduation compared with just 17 percent of their state university counterparts.

“We need companies to understand that workers come from these schools,” Amato said. “When we seek contributions, we educate them on the merits of private education. We’re not telling them we’re the best, because private and public education is important to the state, but we show them how their support can help support a community which help make their business strong.”  

wellabe brd 090123 300x250