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January 2023 Newsletter

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Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame Awards Nominations Open

Nominations for the 2023 Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame Awards are now being accepted! Nominations must be submitted online or postmarked by January 20, 2023; honorees will be recognized during a special ceremony at the Capitol in the spring. Details and nomination materials are online at

Induction into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame is the highest state-level honor volunteers can receive; the people selected have changed the community, the state, the nation, or the world through the gifts of their time and talent. Inductees are recognized both during a special ceremony held in the State Capitol Building and by having their names engraved on the Volunteer Hall of Fame plaque on permanent display in the State Historical Museum. Since the award’s inception in 1989, over 175 Iowans have been honored.

Any Iowa individual, national service member (current or alum), family, group, organization, nonprofit, business, or corporation, who has made a long-lasting positive and meaningful difference in the lives of people through their volunteer service activities, may be nominated for the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame.

Anyone with questions or needing assistance with the nomination form can contact Rebecca Gernes.

New Opportunity for City and County Governments

Volunteer Iowa will launch a pilot initiative in early 2023, developed in partnership with VQ Volunteer Strategies, to equip city and county governments with everything they need to build capacity by leveraging volunteer talent. The City Volunteer Engagement Initiative will provide:

  • step-by-step support to leverage volunteer talent to address concrete community needs
  • a platform to come together as a community of practice to explore engagement trends, pilot new practices, and share learnings
  • a means for cities to position themselves to engage skilled volunteers to meet future needs
  • implementation funding and the opportunity to host an AmeriCorps VISTA member to support the initiative

City Volunteer Engagement Initiative Overview

The City Volunteer Engagement Initiative is a cohort-based program designed for city leaders to explore and innovate in volunteer engagement. This 6-month initiative includes training, coaching, and resources to help cities engage community members in meaningful service that helps build the city’s capacity to achieve its priorities. Additional details are available in our announcement.

Applications are due January 17th at noon. Up to 10 applicants will be selected for the pilot based on level of commitment and a mix of city and county sizes and geographic locations. It is recommended that applicants write their responses in another document, and then copy and paste responses into the application form. Questions about applications can be sent to Michelle Raymer.

National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month, and this year Iowa MENTOR is celebrating the annual campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults. Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make positive choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid negative behaviors. In turn, these young people are:

  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college.
  • 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
  • More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.

Yet, the same research shows that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor.

National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest. This year, with the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement and become involved in real life. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through life choices.

To become a mentor, go to and take the first step via the Mentoring Connector. To learn more about the role mentoring plays in our community, visit the Iowa MENTOR website.

Volunteer Iowa Day at the Capitol

Volunteer Iowa and Iowa MENTOR host Volunteer Iowa Day at the Capitol each year to share with legislators the latest information on the tremendous contributions volunteers and mentors make and their impact in Iowa’s communities. It is also an opportunity to educate lawmakers about the impacts their policy decisions have on Volunteer Iowa programs and services. This year, Volunteer Iowa Day at the Capitol will be on Thursday, February 2.

Staff members and participants from Volunteer Iowa programs including AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Seniors, RSVP, Volunteer Centers and Mentoring Programs, will share with lawmakers the impact their programs have across the state and will inform them about the tremendous program support and resources provided to them by Volunteer Iowa and Iowa MENTOR. Commissioners and programs of Volunteer Iowa are invited to take part in this annual event to help us:

  • Highlight the importance of service volunteering in Iowa
  • Build legislators’ awareness of policy issues important for expanding our sector
  • Provide a venue for volunteer and national service programs to connect with their local legislators

TRAINING WEBINAR: The training webinar will prepare attendees with information about the day and Volunteer Iowa's current policy priorities. Join the training webinar at 12:30pm on January 18. A recording will be made available after the webinar.

The Volunteer Iowa staff create a handbook each year that can help attendees navigate through the process to prep for the day, reach out to legislators, and help with social media the day of the event. For more information, contact or 800.308.5987. Register today to join us for Volunteer Iowa Day at the Capitol!

MLK Day of Service

The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Day of Service is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country step up to make communities more equitable and take action to create the Beloved Community of Dr. King’s dream. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Celebrate this day by joining Volunteer Iowa’s Youth Volunteer Leaders Panel. This panel will highlight the diverse ways young Iowans volunteer and overcome barriers to service. We encourage youth and adult partners to attend the panel and engage in intentional conversations with young people on how we can carry out Dr. King’s mission to make service a pathway to community.

Together, we can strengthen ties to our communities and one other while we address critical issues that divide us.

Register for the January 16th panel. Visit the AmeriCorps MLK Day website for more information.

Volunteer Iowa Receives Volunteer Generation Fund Grant

Volunteer Iowa has received a Volunteer Generation Fund grant from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism.

The Volunteer Generation Fund invests in organizations to increase both volunteer recruitment and retention to engage those who answer the call to serve. With this new funding, Volunteer Iowa will leverage the skills and experience of volunteers in Iowa to support the National Partnership for Student Success, a public-private partnership between the Department of Education and AmeriCorps, the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center and a diverse coalition of education and service organizations committed to providing the academic, mental health and other supports students need to succeed. In Iowa, two funding opportunities for schools will be created, one for the incorporation of service-learning into the classroom, and one for the creation of schoolbased mentoring programs. Recipients will receive additional training and resources, and a request for applications will be opened in 2023.

“Through national service and volunteerism, AmeriCorps invests in new and innovative ways to engage communities and foster a sense of action and belonging,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “We look forward to working together to recruit volunteers to support our nation’s students and address the longstanding inequities and opportunity gaps worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Each year, Americans from all walks of life come together in service to others, to tackle the nation’s most pressing challenges at schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, and civic, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations across the country. These volunteers are essential to the nation’s economic and social well-being and AmeriCorps’ research shows many benefits to volunteerism.

Volunteer Engagement Training

In partnership with the Volunteer Centers of Iowa, join Volunteer Iowa for this 6 series virtual program training kicking off January 31. This engaging and interactive virtual training series, created by Points of Light, will provide a comprehensive understanding of the major components of nonprofit volunteer engagement and provide the opportunity to develop volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition strategies and methods of offering projects for diverse audiences.

Through the Training Program you will learn about:

  • Establishing the Framework
  • Planning for Volunteer Engagement
  • Opportunities and Outreach
  • Intake and Onboarding
  • Supervision and Support
  • Evaluation

Dates: January 31, February 7, February 14, February 21, February 28, and March 7. All sessions run 10 a.m.-noon. Cost to participate is $125. Register today!

Service Enterprise Spring Cohort Applications Now Being Accepted

A national program led statewide by Volunteer Iowa, Service Enterprise is a proven, research‐based model that equips organizations to leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels to successfully deliver on their social mission.

Through a multi-month virtual engagement with Volunteer Iowa, organizations will move through a change management process with innovative training and consulting support, that will result in embracing volunteers into their core operations and greater impact.

An organization will receive:

  • A thorough research-based assessment of existing organizational capacity and volunteer engagement practices
  • Up to 16 hours of training on change management and reexamining the ways in which the organization engages volunteers Individualized consulting to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization.

Visit Volunteer Iowa's Service Enterprise webpage for more information. Applications can be requested by emailing Michelle Raymer.

Iowa Nonprofit Alliance

The Iowa Nonprofit Alliance held a kickoff event and press conference on Thursday, December 8. The Alliance was created to help nonprofits across Iowa collaborate, network and advocate with a unified, statewide voice. Prior to the founding of the Iowa Nonprofit Alliance, Iowa was one of just seven states not to have a statewide nonprofit organization.

Julianne Gassman, chair of the Alliance and director and professor of the office of community engagement at the University of Northern Iowa, said the nonprofit sector generates more than $20 billion in revenue each year, most of which is recycled back into their communities. Iowans give about $7.2 billion to charity each year, and Iowa ranks No. 4 in the country for the number of people who volunteer annually, equaling about $1.3 billion in labor each year.

Over the next few months, the alliance will hold training and information sessions, including a series looking at strategic planning for nonprofits and the role of a board chair. There will also be opportunities for networking and resource sharing.

Visit the Iowa Nonprofit Alliance website for more information and details on how to become a member.

Service in the News

Current Volunteer Iowa Opportunities

Volunteer with us! Volunteer Iowa is always on the lookout for individuals who want to give back and help support our work. Find general volunteer opportunities with Volunteer Iowa. We currently have one position open with immediate need:

  • Volunteer Iowa seeks a detail-oriented volunteer to assist with improvements to the statewide Get Connected database. This database provides the ability for individuals and groups across the state to find and register for meaningful volunteer opportunities and improves the ability for nonprofits and organizations who are in need of volunteer assistance to have those needs met. The volunteer will ensure the information contained in the database is up-to-date, create resources to ensure usability of the site, and develop a promotion plan to reach organizations and individuals who could benefit from the service. This opportunity can be completed virtually and scheduled at the volunteer’s discretion. Learn more and sign up today.

Join the ranks of other AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in organizations across the state helping to alleviate poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA provides opportunities for Americans eighteen years of age and older from diverse backgrounds to dedicate a year of service with non-profit organizations or public entities (as a host organization) to create or to expand efforts designed to empower low-income individuals and communities. VISTA members serve for one year in full time position with a host organization. More information about joining VISTA and a current list of AmeriCorps VISTA opening in Iowa can be found on our AmeriCorps VISTA page.

Other Iowa AmeriCorps programs supported by Volunteer Iowa are also recruiting now.

Important Dates

Looking for a way to give back? Visit Get Connected today to find volunteer opportunities. Organizations can post volunteer opportunities on Get Connected as well at no cost.