Washington Evening Journal
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Washington YMCA wins unexpected grant money
Announcement of $750,000 took takes nonprofit by surprise
WASHINGTON — When a $750,000 grant from the Destination Iowa program was announced for the Washington YMCA’s indoor pool project on March 9, managers of the nonprofit said they were shocked.
Washington County Y CEO Amy Schulte said the organization’s application was initially rejected for the tourism-focused grants. That made Thursday’s news of a six-figure allocation surprising.
“I didn’t get a chance to read the governor’s press release until I went home, and then one of my board members sent me a text message,” she said. “I went and looked at it, and I was blown away. We had applied for this grant almost a year ago, and last August (were) told that we didn’t meet the criteria that they were looking to fund … we thought it was a done deal, we didn’t think it was still an option for us.”
The pool project was one of several recipients named in a state news release Thursday, which said the Destination Iowa program had $15 million more to allocate than the $100 million grant budget previously announced by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said the extra funds were focused on rural communities with populations below 30,000.
“Destination Iowa has inspired communities in all corners of the state to dream big about projects that will bolster quality of life and attract newcomers,” she said in the release. “The demand is so high, especially in rural areas, that I’ve extended the program to help more rural communities realize those dreams.”
Schulte said she was grateful that the pool project got a second look. While the facility’s early cost estimates came in around $6 million in 2018, she said changing economic conditions since then have brought the expected price up to $8.5 million.
Schulte said the unanticipated cash put the nonprofit in a better position to reach that goal than when the week started.
“We have about $2 million left that we need to raise for the project,” she said. “The scope of the project won’t change … what it will mean is that our goal of starting the project this summer will be a lot more attainable. It will mean that hopefully this money will help generate, help us leverage other moneys from the other grant opportunities out there.”