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The Week in Social 2/8-2/12

The Week in Social rounds up the best of Iowa’s uplifting stories, exciting initiatives and fun events from all 99 counties discovered through social media. In a time where every bit of good news is cherished, this series is devoted to being a fun, lighthearted way to stay informed about Iowa’s good news.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, an organization devoted to strengthening the vitality and sustainability of arts and culture, film and media, history and historic preservation efforts in the state, opened its round of annual grants for fiscal year 2022.

There are currently eight grants listed on, ranging from film and media funding to professional development opportunities for artistic careers, as well as nonprofit and community grants.

In the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2021, some of the grants have been modified to provide arts and cultural organizations greater stability and flexibility, while also encouraging creative programs, innovative projects and new partnerships tied to strategic initiatives and diversity and inclusion efforts.

Organizations or individuals that have funding available to Iowa artists, organizations or communities, are encouraged to post the opportunities here.

Recently graduated and interested in becoming a homeowner? Des Moines might be the place for you.

The city recently ranked #3 on Forbes’ list of 10 Affordable (& Booming) Cities For College Grads To Buy A Home. In comparison to the standards around the U.S., homes in Iowa’s most populous city are ultra-affordable. In 2020, the median listing price for a home in Des Moines was $201,000, which makes it a bargain for recent college grads earning a median salary of $50,000.

Des Moines is also an area of high growth, with median listing prices for single-family homes rising by 21.9% in 2020, making the prospect of buying a home an exciting investment opportunity.

Want to learn more about the fastest growing metro area in the Midwest? Make your move.

In Grinnell, a hankering for pie usually leads to one place — A&M Café, home of Iowa’s “pie guy.”

A&M Café’s namesake comes from Audrey and Merle Reitzler, who have run the restaurant for the past 30 years. Merle, a former farmer, traded in his tractor for a spatula and has made homemade pies ever since. A&M Café serves more than 50 flavors of pie and Merle has memorized each recipe.

The past year has been difficult for many, especially small business owners with the pandemic temporarily closing businesses and the derecho leaving areas without power. A&M Café experienced interruptions from both, and those days and the following weeks were especially hard. Merle kept producing pies just the same. In 2020, he handmade 1,800 pies, all to satisfy his “cheerleaders,” the customers who are helping keep him afloat.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has made funding available for rural innovation projects throughout the state.

The Rural Innovation Grant Program, which awarded grants to 17 projects last year, will award $300,000 to projects or programs that support creative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by rural communities associated with the themes of community investment, growth and connection.

Applicants can request $1,000-$20,000 and the projects must exist in communities with a population of 20,000 or fewer. Applications need to be submitted by April 16 to be considered. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by May 21.

Published February 15, 2021

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