Black Hawk County, Iowa Centers Graduate from Growth Fund Program

Growth Fund Class 7 GraduatesThree Black Hawk County child care centers were recognized in July for their accomplishments as participants in the Iowa Growth Fund Program. The Growth Fund is a multi-year program designed to move successful childcare businesses “to the next level” in their business operations and growth.
The Growth Fund provided the centers with training and one-on-one business consulting, opportunities to network and exchange ideas with their peers, and to learn from business advisors in various areas of expertise from marketing to finances. Each of the centers developed a business plan and received grant funds to support the implementation of their goals over a two-year period.  The centers used the grant funds to make business improvements related to marketing, playground and classroom improvements, staff development, and certain equipment purchases.  
Some of the positive results of the Growth Fund Program experienced by the centers included: increased funding, increased support and volunteerism, improved staff morale, improved financial conditions, increased enrollments, technology improvements, and increased ratings in the Iowa Quality Rating System (QRS).
“Grin and Grow’s participation in the Growth Fund Program has certainly helped our agency move “to the next level.”  Going into the program our agency was struggling with a cumbersome bookkeeping system of handmade spreadsheets. The Growth Fund helped us to shift our bookkeeping to an online system that has significantly improved both our accounting and our budget building capabilities.  Our participation had a similar impact on our agency’s marketing abilities, enabling us to finally establish both a website and social media presence on which to tell our story to the community and potential clients,” stated Mike Knapp, Executive Director of Grin and Grow, Ltd. in Waterloo. “While the initial impetus for both of these changes was initiated through the Growth Fund, we were able to use this participation to leverage a matching grant from a local foundation and in-kind donation from a local website developer.  Without the Growth Fund, we’d still be spinning our wheels with yesterday’s technology.”
A community celebration event was held to recognize the accomplishments of following centers:

Black Hawk County Family YMCA Child Development Center

Grin and Grow

Tri-County Head Start


The Black Hawk County Growth Fund was made possible thanks to funding from R.J. McElroy Trust, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, Iowa Department of Human Services, Northwest Area Foundation and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, CDFI Fund.
Since 2011, Thirty (30) child care centers from across Iowa have graduated from the Growth Fund Program and 10 more are currently participating. For more information on the Growth Fund, visit the First Children’s Finance website or contact Heidi Schlueter at

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