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Bright Ideas Grant Program Deadline Nears

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation’s Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund was established in 2010 to support charitable intentions of the various 501(c)(3) not for profit organizations that serve to enrich the quality of life for the residents of the City of Ottumwa and Wapello County.

The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund will distribute up to $150,000 this cycle after reviewing eligible grant applications.  Grant amounts are expected to range from $2,500 to $30,000.

Applicants must complete and submit the online grant application by 5:00 pm on October 15, 2020.  Organizations that are a 501c(3) not for profit and interested in applying for a grant from the Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund should access the online grant application system here.   Before starting the online application process, applicants are encouraged to review the grant checklist, which will provide assistance in completing the online process.   For further information contact Amy Nossaman or call 641.455.5260

Grant Awarded to Cardinal for Postsecondary Prep

Cardinal Community School District was awarded a $37,000 grant for the 2020-2021 school year from the Ottumwa Legacy Foundation earlier this week. This grant will help fund a college an Educational Talent Search career counselor. The added support will allow Cardinal to provide additional support for all students navigating college and career choices.

Indian Hills is funding 50% of this position to help make this support a reality. “These partnerships are another great example of how you can offer more services for children and make the costs work within the budget,” said Cardinal Superintendent Joel Pedersen. 

Educational Talent Search (ETS) is a federally funded grant program created in the 1960’s. IHCC is starting year 5 of our ETS program; we write to be refunded every 5 years. ETS serves 500 6th through 12th graders focusing on academic, career, college, and personal needs through individual meetings, group workshops, college visits, and cultural trips. ETS staff help participants with course selection and planning, college entrance exam prep, college admission, financial aid/FAFSA, scholarships, and career exploration. 

Dr. Jennifer Wilson, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Indian Hills Community College supervises the ETS grant.  She notes, “IHCC is proud to partner with Cardinal to provide all students the guidance to help them prepare for their next step.  We are thrilled the Legacy Foundation believes in the importance higher education has on our area economic development, and has chosen to provide financial support to allow Cardinal and IHCC to partner in this capacity to grow opportunities for our area youth”.  According to Debbie Boyer, ETS Program Director, “IHCC’s ETS program continually exceeds its benchmarks for the grant. Our program is looking forward to expanding services available to existing ETS participants and increasing the number of those served.” 

“The Legacy Foundation has been a longtime strategic partner with Cardinal CSD,” said Pedersen. “Our school is adding several mental health supports in place for the next school year. This grant allows us to add resources sooner and also provide the appropriate therapy on campus.”

“We could not be more thrilled that Cardinal students will have access to these critical resources, stated Kelly Genners, Legacy Foundation President.  “We know from the data that the more support students have to determine postsecondary pathways, the more successful they are in attaining the additional skills and education needed to obtain fulfilling and profitable careers long-term.”

Leadership Team Chosen for Studio 229 Project

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has added Heather Larson as the Executive Director of Studio 229 and Shiloh Seim as the projects’ Operations Manager.

Larson’s career spreads across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Most recently, Larson was the Program Director, Allied Health at Indian Hills Community College. Heather is a native of Ottumwa, and a graduate of Iowa State University (BS, Dietetics), Walden University (MBA) and of the OttumwaLeadership Academy. Larson lives in rural Ottumwa with her husband and their three children.  

Larson joins Shiloh Seim, Operations Manager for the project.

Seim’s professional background is in banking, management, event planning, and hospitality. Shiloh is active in the community and a 2017 graduate from the Ottumwa Leadership Academy and Dale Carnegie. She resides in Ottumwa with her spouse and two children.

“This is a large and complex project, focusing on two theater buildings that mean a great deal to our community”, said Kelly Genners, ORLF President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have such a talented and tenacious team to lead us in this renovation and reprogramming effort.”

The project name, Studio 229, was born from the address of the Ottumwa Theatre, located at 229 E Main in downtown Ottumwa. Larson & Seim are tasked with overseeing rehabilitation of the buildings and development of business operations. More information regarding the project will be released to the public in October. Community members interested in seeing the building can participate in an abbreviated showing as part of the Shop Small, Love Local event on August 29th.  

Legacy Youth Alliance Invites Grant Applications

The Legacy Youth Alliance, a youth program through the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation is pleased to announce their fall grant cycle opening on September 1, 2020. The Legacy Youth Alliance, started in 2017, gives Wapello County youth a voice in the causes they care about and a means to support those causes. The Legacy Youth Alliance has members from the four high schools that serve Wapello County students: Ottumwa, Pekin, Cardinal, and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.

The Legacy Youth Alliance grant may distribute up to $10,000 in this competitive grant cycle. Applications must be for a youth-led project or from a youth-serving organization and should range from $500 to $2,500. Special consideration will be given to those projects that focus on the funding priority areas of early childhood education or physical, mental, or emotional health of Wapello County youth. 

Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization or have sponsorship of a 501(c)(3) organization. The online grant application can be accessed through the foundation website at  If you need assistance to accommodate a disability, or have further questions please email Amy Nossaman or call (641) 455-5260. 

Genners Named ORLF President/CEO

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Kelly Genners has been named the new President/CEO. 

Genners, an Ottumwa native, has been part of the organization since its inception in 2010.  She was previously promoted to the Vice-President of Programs & Initiatives in 2015.  Her expertise includes over 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector in the health, education, and community development arenas.  Genners holds an AA degree from IHCC, a Business Administration degree from Buena Vista University and Master of Science degree from Iowa State University with a Community Development emphasis. She is also a 2013 graduate of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy.

Genners community involvement is extensive with commitments that include serving on the IHCC Regional Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Rippling Water Property Development Board, C3 Stakeholder Council, Convention & Visitors Bureau Board, Spark Tank Advisory Board and Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress Board. 

During the past 10 years, Genners has overseen the Foundation grant and program portfolio, spearheaded grant program development and managed strategic projects for the organization.  “I am deeply honored by the confidence that has been placed in me to lead this important organization and extremely talented team,” said Genners. “I look forward to utilizing my skills in this new role to advance community goals while maintaining the highest standard in grantmaking and nonprofit support.”

Click here to learn more or to contact Kelly Genners.

Genners Named ORLF Interim President/CEO

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation (ORLF) has named Kelly Genners as the Interim President/CEO effective June 26, 2020, following the departure of Steve Dust.

Genners has been part of the organization since its inception in 2010.  She was previously promoted to the Vice-President of Programs & Initiatives in 2015.  Her expertise includes over 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector – both in education and health.  Genners holds an AA degree from IHCC, a Business Administration degree from Buena Vista University and Master of Science degree from Iowa State University with a Community Development emphasis.  Genners is active with many community organizations, serving on the C3 Stakeholder Council, IHCC Regional Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Convention & Visitors Center Board of Directors, Spark Tank Advisory Board, Main Street Design Committee and is a graduate of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy to name a few. 

Marlene Sprouse, ORLF Board Chair, expressed gratitude on behalf of the board, “Kelly Genners has served as Interim President/CEO in the past. Her experience with the Foundation allows project work to continue smoothly and without interruption. The board values her and appreciates her willingness to step up.”

Small Business Emergency Grants Announced

The Legacy Foundation has awarded $100,000 in grants to 37 small businesses from its Wapello County Small Business Emergency Impact Fund.   This fund was created in direct response to the pandemic and was intended to provide immediate, short-term cash flow assistance to for-profit operations in distress.

With an overwhelming number of applicants to the program, significant care was taken during the evaluation process with emphasis placed in three areas: quality of application, level of hardship and level of impact.

The Foundation believes that a healthy, small business community is essential to a vital local economy, and the pandemic presents a unique threat to those businesses. “This obviously wasn’t a program that we planned or budgeted for”, stated Steve Dust, Legacy Foundation President.  “But we felt so strongly that it was needed that we reallocated monies from three other program areas to make it happen.”

From the $100,000 total, 37 grants of varying amounts will be granted to the following small businesses:

  • Reflectionz Studio
  • My Chic Boutique
  • Hold Fast Tattoos
  • Tee-Rex Mini Golf
  • Top Hat
  • Moon Locks Salon
  • Red Sea Erithrean and Ethiopian Restaurant
  • Thumbsup Awards
  • Main Street Donuts
  • The Stockyard Steak & Chop House
  • Vine Coffeehouse
  • Owl’s Nest LLC
  • Lee’s Photography
  • Finders Keepers
  • Ashbys
  • Brendas Bar and Grill
  • Ottumwa Grocery
  • Pro Tan Tanning Center
  • Scratch Filipino cuisine
  • Rainy’s
  • OHANA Grill Hawaiian BBQ
  • Curl Up & Dye Salon
  • Family First Chiropractic Clinic
  • Martha’s Nook & Cranny
  • Graphix Masters
  • Dixons Floors N More
  • Antiques & Uniques
  • The Stitch Doctor Inc
  • Dean Satellite and Antenna
  • Tequila Grill
  • Morgan’s Corner Bar & Grill
  • Sports Medicine Diagnostic Center
  • Courtside Bar & Grill Inc
  • Bailey Office Outfitters
  • Keith Equestrian Center
  • Berry Patch IT Services
  • Nina’s Cut & Curl

Bright Ideas Summer Cycle Opens Soon

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation is preparing to open the 27th funding cycle of the Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund on June 1, 2020. The Bright Ideas grant program offers unique funding opportunities for Wapello County nonprofit organizations to pilot new programs, expand current services, and buy or repair equipment critical to their everyday operations.

“The Legacy Foundation, and in turn, the Bright Ideas program, has always tried to be responsive to the needs of our nonprofit community,” said Amy Nossaman, Grants Program Manager. “We try very hard to listen and recognize their needs and concerns, and like much of the country, our nonprofits are in need general operating support. They are experiencing an unprecedented demand for goods or services that are beyond their operating budget”, stated Nossaman.  Assistance with general operating expenses related to COVID-19 is just one of several types of grant support offered through the Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund during this particular cycle. A list of past projects funded through the program is available here.

Over the past 10 years, the Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund, has infused more than $3.7 million into the county. It has supported volunteer-based nonprofits, small nonprofits, and large nonprofit agencies.  The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund is open to any 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization operating or providing services in Wapello County. Grant awards range from $2,500 to $30,000; priority is given to programs and projects with high need or high impact on area residents. The summer grant cycle opens on June 1, with an application deadline of June 30 at 5:00 pm. Grant information, eligibility requirements, and online application can be found here.

New Vests Purchased for Emergency Response Team

Recently, the Board of Directors for the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, approved a grant request from the Ottumwa Police Department. The request, from Ottumwa Police Chief, Tom McAndrew, was for assistance to purchase five new bullet proof vests. These vests are heavier than those worn during a police officer’s daily routine. These vests, specifically ordered for members of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), can withstand a much greater impact. The ERT members have been specially trained for high-risk, hazardous situations requiring a highly tactical response.

Being an ERT officer is voluntary and the team members train together one day a month. This additional response training substantially reduces the risk of injury or loss of life. Equally important to the additional training is state of the art equipment. According to Chief McAndrew, “these vests are critical to the safety of our officers during high-risk situations. We are thankful that the Legacy Foundation was able to step up and assist us with this purchase when the dollars were not available in the budget.”

“The Legacy Foundation has always been very supportive of public safety initiatives, especially those that involve equipment needed by first responders,” said foundation CEO, Steve Dust. Some past public safety requests include storm sirens in Agency and Eldon, smoke alarms for Sparky Claus, body armor for the volunteers in the Wapello County Sheriff’s Reserve, and support for Wapello County citizens through the American Red Cross. Since 2011, nearly $275,000 has been awarded to public safety initiatives around the county. 

More information on public safety or other grant requests funded by the foundation can be found at

$100,000 Earmarked For Small Business Relief Program

We are excited to announce that applications are now open for the new Wapello County Small Business Emergency Impact Fund. This new Legacy Foundation created and managed fund was established specifically to assist small businesses suffering financial losses due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  Applications will be accepted online here.  The deadline for application submission is May 15, 2020 at 5 pm.

In announcing the new fund, Legacy CEO Steve Dust said, “Our local small businesses have always been there to serve us with a rich selection of products and services while additionally providing many employment opportunities.  They are part of what makes our community unique and special.  This new grant fund is one way that we are attempting to reflect that commitment and help them weather this pandemic-driven economic storm.” 

Qualified applicants are eligible for up to $5,000 to assist in immediate relief to their business.  This fund was created in direct response to the pandemic and is intended to provide immediate, short-term cash flow assistance to for-profit operations.  (The Legacy Foundation also has emergency relief funds available to our non-profit 501(c)3-designated charitable partners.) The funds cannot be used to pay debts incurred prior to the COVID outbreak and emergency proclamation limitations. 

Grants will be based on demonstrated financial need and are subject to all eligibility requirements.  Only one grant award is eligible per ownership group.

Recognizing the urgency of these dollars, it is the expectation that award recipients will be announced prior to May 30.  Grants will be made based on available fund resources.  Application to the program does not guarantee funding.

Businesses must meet the following criteria to be considered: 

  • Must have experienced a financial hardship directly as a result of COVID-19
  • Must have employed between 1 – 25 (FTE) employees as of March 1, 2020
  • Businesses with 1 employee must have an independent business address and location. No home-based business will be considered
  • Must be in good standing with state and local government jurisdictions
  • The impacted business operation must be located in Wapello County.

Applications will be evaluated by a review team comprised of Foundation staff, banking, small business and economic development professionals, and local government representatives. 

The Fund is also accepting cash donations from any business, organization, or individual wishing to increase the amount of grants available to Wapello County businesses. “We’re looking forward to partnering with others to serve more businesses, said Dust. This is a time to support your neighborhood and Main Street restaurants, retail and service providers of all kinds. 100% of your gift will fund additional grants.”  Contributions to the Wapello County Small Business Emergency Impact Fund are tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Contact Kelly Genners for more information.