The Quad Cities Community Foundation on Friday announced a total of $566,000 in new grant awards through its Coordinated Field of Interest Grant program. Made possible by donors to the Community Foundation, this year’s program pools resources from 11 different Field of Interest Funds as well as the Quad Cities Community Impact Fund.

The Coordinated Field of Interest Grant program represents one of the largest single grantmaking distributions made by the Community Foundation each year.

Grants from the program cover a variety of specific focus areas, from basic needs and health to community development and arts and culture. The funding is intended to provide general operating support or program support for successful ongoing efforts. Twelve of this year’s 32 recipients are receiving grants that will be awarded for two consecutive years.

Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

“The Coordinated Field of Interest Grant program is a wonderful example of how we work to find the intersection between the pressing needs in our community and the issues donors are passionate about,” said Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives. “The 32 recipients of these grants provide a diverse range of resources and services to better our region, and it’s a privilege for us to help donor generosity support that work in the best way possible.”

Jonathan Burnett established the Urban Exposure Independent Film Project at the Azubuike African American Council for the Arts seven years ago to introduce students between the ages of 17 and 23 to the power of filmmaking, opening their minds to the educational and career opportunities available to them and inspiring them to tell their own stories. In that time, he’s seen participants go on to earn degrees in filmmaking, start careers in the industry, and win awards at international film festivals.

Filmmaker Jonathan Burnett runs the Urban Exposure Independent Film Project.

Now, with a two-year grant from the Quad Cities Community Impact Fund in the focus areas of arts and culture and youth development, Azubuike will be able to reach more Urban Exposure participants and grow the region’s status as a vibrant cultural center, according to a foundation release.

Part of the funding will go toward recruitment incentives like scholarships to help students who need to earn money over the summer commit to the intensive program, which runs eight to 10 weeks. The grant will also fund a separate new initiative, the Quad Cities Film Production Incubator, to support filmmakers ages 20 to 28 from the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

“This funding will begin to create a new generation of filmmakers who have the opportunity to make an immediate impact within the industry,” said Burnett. “The Midwestern perspective has been overlooked in the film world, but we’re not just flyover states. We have culture, interesting stories, and issues we want to bring forward. This funding is the starting point.”

The grant will help Azubuike fulfill its mission of bridging racial gaps through art locally, too. “Our students’ films have covered so many different topics, including issues people didn’t think existed in the Quad Cities,” said Burnett. “With this program, we’re bringing those issues to light and having those conversations. Films that show people who do not look like us, who have a different culture or belief system from us, create a bridge of empathy.” 

Other major grant recipients announced Friday include:

  • Putnam Museum & Science Center, $40,000
  • Family Resources, $40,000
  • River Bend Food Bank, $30,000
  • Quad Cities Community Broadcasting Group, $30,000
  • Martin Luther King Center, $29,600
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, $20,000
  • Quad Cities Interfaith, $20,000
  • Dress for Success Quad Cities, $20,000

For more information about starting a fund to support the region, or to apply for a grant, visit