Community foundations face-off in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Community foundations face-off in Waterloo

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Some controversy is brewing between two community foundations in the Cedar Valley -- one, a long-established force for good, another looking to change the focus of local charity.

Kaye Englin is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa (CFNEIA). With an $85 million endowment, their grants can make a huge difference in the Cedar Valley. This month, they broke ground for a new office space in Cedar Falls, after more than 50 years in Waterloo.

"It's going to be a big year," Englin said.

However, some say the move to Cedar Falls shows that the group has lost focus on the community where they began -- Waterloo.

The CFNEIA serves 19 counties, and that short shifts Waterloo, according to former mayor Tim Hurley. He, along with several other community members, have founded a new group in recent months -- the Waterloo Community Foundation. They plan to start from scratch, and refocus on Waterloo.

"On 18% of their awards went to Waterloo projects," said Hurley of the CFNEIA. "And we feel that, conservatively, 50% or more of their asset base is Waterloo initiated."

He said they plan to drum up more support without taking away from current CFNEIA funds. They hope to be up and running by mid-summer 2015.

"Doing the typical things that a foundation does, but doing it here in Waterloo, not a 6 or 19 county arena," Hurley said.

Englin, on the other hand, said they're using reserve funds to build their new facility, and the move to Cedar Falls won't affect their commitment to the area. She said their board feels it's important to broaden their area.

"People felt like we have a responsibility to impact all the communities that we possibly can," she said.

"Where ever the donor wants the dollars directed, that's where the dollars go," she said. "But what we find is that a lot of our donors are not that targeted in their giving."

Hurley said another factor in their decision to the the Waterloo Community Foundation was the CFNEIA decision to pull funds from local banks. Previously, the group decided to shift all money to a Chicago investment group, Marquette Associates, which manages some $95 billion.

Both say they wish the other no ill will, it's just a difference of philosophies.

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