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Fueled by a new State of Iowa grant, the YWCA Quad Cities is preparing to relocate its Davenport-based Empowerment Center into a spacious new location its programming and services for those in need “can grow into,” the center’s executive director said. “We’re tired of growing out of facilities,” Deanna Woodall said of the Empowerment Center, which is bursting at the seams in its existing 140 E. River Drive office. “We want a facility we can grow into.” Thanks to a huge financial boost from Iowa’s Nonprofit Innovation Fund and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Ms. Woodall told the QCBJ that the organization has found just such a new home. With the $1.6 million state grant, the organization is acquiring the former Jewish center at 1115 Mississippi Ave., Davenport, to move and expand its entire Empowerment Center operation, she said. The Empowerment Center, which began as an Iowa satellite facility for the Rock Island-based YWCA Quad Cities, expects to close on the facility – just three blocks north of its River Drive location – in October and begin renovations as early as November. The center, which helps empower women and families who are less fortunate, will go from a 2,000-square-foot office that grew over time into a 13,190-square-foot facility atop Mississippi Avenue in east Davenport. The YWCA is purchasing the property from the B’nai Israel Congregation, which relocated to East Kimberly Road, Ms. Woodall added. “Receiving this grant to allow us to expand services and programming in the Iowa Quad Cities will be a game changer for this community,” the YWCA’s President and CEO Julie Larson said in a news release. “We are honored to be selected as an Iowa agency to serve those in need in the great state of Iowa and more importantly, right here in our own community.” Iowa’s Nonprofit Innovation Fund is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The governor recently announced a total of $40 million in grant funding for 24 nonprofit projects. “We received an overwhelming interest in this unique grant program, which highlights the passion of Iowa’s nonprofits and their positive impact on our state,” Ms. Reynolds said in the release announcing the YWCA grant. According to Ms. Woodall, the grant not only will expand the center’s footprint but also will enable it to increase services and programs. Where the YWCA’s Rock Island Center is primarily focused on childcare (work is underway on a new downtown Rock Island YWCA at the former Zimmerman auto dealership), she said the Empowerment Center provides a variety of services and educational programs. They include a food pantry, a clothing closet, personal hygiene and baby supplies, as well as access to computers, copiers, a printer and Wi-Fi. Computer and job training also is available to qualified applicants. The new facility will include events space, stages, offices, and a full commercial kitchen, where it hopes to offer meals and culinary classes. “A lot of (programs/services) will continue to help the less fortunate in our community to go on to be successful people in our community,” Ms. Woodall said of the center’s mission. Unfortunately, she added COVID-19 not only negatively impacted the center’s financial situation but also increased the demand for its services. Due to the pandemic, all the YWCA’s fundraising came to a temporary halt, many events were shut down and restrictions kept in-person programs from operating. “We kept paying our staff even though we were closed down,” she said. “It was an interesting time because there were opportunities that were COVID related, but anything else came to a halt.” She added that even when the Rock Island and Davenport centers were closed “we remained operational as much as possible. We weren’t open to the public, but we made ourselves available if people had an emergency.” “As we saw the needs continue to grow and what type of assistance they were needing, we saw a need for us to get a larger building,” Ms. Woodall said. The grant will enable the organization to purchase the building, complete renovations and help cover some operational costs to create sustainability. “We will continue to fundraise so we can continue to do this for another 100 years,” she said. The YWCA Quad Cities’ mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice and freedom and dignity for all. In October 2019, the Iowa Empowerment Center was opened as a satellite location to allow the YWCA to expand its reach and serve the Iowa Quad Cities. Operated and funded through the YWCA, the center has grown from serving 10 to 15 clients per week pre-COVID to now regularly serving 10 to 15 clients per day.