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Foundation – What We Do

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The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

Our Purpose

The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation serves as the vehicle through which private funds are used to enhance the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s collections, programs, and technologies while supporting the Library’s Strategic Initiatives of Literacy, Access, and Inclusion.

How the Foundation Supports Our Library

We’re building confident caregivers, creating a culture of literacy and inspiring innovative experiences.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Research shows that children who grow up with books in their home will achieve three more years of education than those who do not. Our Imagination Library provides Cedar Rapids children one free, age-appropriate book per month from birth to their 5th birthday, regardless of income. These high-quality books are mailed to the child’s home with the child’s name on it. Children enrolled at birth will have 60 books in their home before kindergarten, promoting early Literacy and kindergarten readiness.

Mobile Technology Lab

Launched in May 2021, the MTL brings underserved members of our community Access to emerging technology outside our Library walls. The MTL is stocked with portable electronics and maker tools for all ages. Inclusion is at the forefront of strategy in determining where and when to deliver Tech to Go programs at an area park or help print resumes at an Iowa Workforce Job Fair.

Preschool Outreach

Through recorded monthly story times at preschools serving low-income children, Library staff engage students in the five early literacy practices of Sing, Talk, Read, Write, and Play. Since 1990, the preschool outreach program has provided story time books for children to take home and healthy snacks for parent-teacher meetings and graduation ceremonies. The preschool outreach program supports early Literacy and provides Access to library services for families who might struggle to make it through our doors.

Summer Dare Program

Our Library’s Summer Dare is an intergenerational program that combines reading with activities that encourage lifelong learning. In its second year of pandemic programs, Summer Dare evolved by focusing on take-home camps and kits in addition to offering programs outside at area parks and other partner locations. With 102 in-person programs, this year’s Summer Dare saw 4,738 attendees.

We’re bridging the opportunity gap, connecting with community, and becoming a community catalyst.

Mobile Technology Lab

Launched in May 2021, the MTL brings underserved members of our community Access to emerging technology outside our Library walls. The MTL is stocked with portable electronics and maker tools for all ages. Inclusion is at the forefront of strategy in determining where and when to deliver Tech to Go programs at an area park or help print resumes at an Iowa Workforce Job Fair.

Summer Dare Program

Our Library’s Summer Dare is an intergenerational program that combines reading with activities that encourage lifelong learning. In its second year of pandemic programs, Summer Dare evolved by focusing on take-home camps and kits in addition to offering programs outside at area parks and other partner locations. With 102 in-person programs, this year’s Summer Dare saw 4,738 attendees.

Book Club Facilitators

Our Library has more than 100 book club kits available for public use. The Library Foundation funds two book club facilitators who, since 2004, have led monthly discussions at Cottage Grove Place and Meth-Wick Community. This program promotes Literacy and provides Access to library service for seniors who may struggle to get to the library on their own.

We’re championing lifelong learning, telling our story, and delighting our customers.

Video Streaming and More

Hoopla is a digital media service that features movies, music, audiobooks, eBooks, comics, and TV shows. Hoopla’s catalog allows more diversity in resources to support the Library’s Inclusion efforts to provide more representation in its collection. Patrons access content through digital devices, allowing Access to Library materials anywhere without needing a holds list.

Books & Materials

The Library’s books and materials are the consumables that keep our patrons engaged and equipped with well cared-for and maintained literature, videos, music, e-books, and more. The Foundation has helped enhance the Library’s commitment to Literacy collections through donor gifts since 1985.

Library Staff Development

The Foundation funds annual Library staff development as well as Library staff and volunteer appreciation and recognition. The Library is committed to the continuing education of our staff and provides yearlong professional development in topics such as intellectual freedom, implicit bias, social justice and equity, and the role of the library in community.

FOCUS Newsletters

In spring 2010, the Friends and the Foundation published their first combined newsletter inspired by the creativity and collaboration in the air at the Library. By joining publications, we hope to inform Library supporters better while avoiding multiple mailings. Friends content includes information concerning all the activities, projects and volunteer opportunities that the Friends have to offer.

The Foundation pages highlight new library programs or purchases that were made possible by private contributions and promote other fundraising efforts intended to help grow the reach of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in our community.