Frequently Asked Questions

Will my organization be notified that Black Hawk County Gaming Association received our Letter of Intent?

Yes, all applicants will receive an email verifying that we received the Letter of Intent via the online grant application. This will be accompanied by an explanation of what happens next.

When will grants for Black Hawk County projects be awarded?

The final FY23 grant awards for Black Hawk County projects will be made in April 2023. FY24 will have three cycles, but unlike past years, all of the counties in our service area can apply in any of the cycles. This includes projects outside of Black Hawk, including Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy, and Tama counties.

The board meets to prioritize all applications and to make funding recommendations. The process takes approximately 8-10 weeks from the application deadline date.

What are the criteria for getting a grant approved?

Grants are primarily awarded to projects that will make the Cedar Valley a stronger, better place to live. Applicants must be public agencies, educational organizations, or 501(c)(3) or 501(c)19 not-for-profits organizations as determined by the IRS. We place an emphasis on proposals that:

  • Enhance public facilities
  • Create, replace or upgrade substantial capital items
  • Create new opportunities where none now exist
  • Maximize community resources by collaborating with other local organizations
  • Eliminate redundant programs through community collaboration
  • Have at least 50% matching funds already available, 70% if the project involves a vehicle

Applications should show how the project can sustain itself long-term without relying on additional funds from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association every year.

Will the Black Hawk County Gaming Association fund applications that request long-term funding over a period of multiple years?

No, at this time, the organization will consider operating requests, but not in consecutive years.

Are matching funds required?

Yes. The board requires projects with a minimum of a 50% match. Generally, we prefer projects that are able to raise money from additional sources or have that money available in their budget.

How do I apply for a grant?

Log into the online grant portal here. Once a grant cycle is open, answer the Letter of Intent questions by the deadline. Once BHCGA staff determines your project or program meets the eligibility requirements, you'll receive an email inviting you to fill out the full application. 

Are cost estimates for my project required?

Budget amounts submitted should include verifiable costs, including supplier/contractor proposals or quotations if available. If not available with the grant request, such information is required prior to signing the contract with Black Hawk County Gaming Association.

Can my project include small portable items in the budget?

Grant applications for construction, remodeling, equipment, and furnishings shall include only durable items having multi-year usefulness or are part of or attached to a permanent structure.

Sustainable Organizations

The Board’s preference is to consider grants from organizations having a minimum of one year operating history. Grant applications shall include evidence or planning data supporting that the organization will continue to be sustainable.

Do municipal projects require resolutions?

Yes, governmental units (such as a municipality or school district) must upload documentation of approval and support by your administrative body.  For example, if a municipality, a copy of the City Council resolution approving the project is required.  IF a school district, a letter from the District's Superintendent indicating the project is a high priority within the district is sufficient.  Failure to upload the required approvals will result in a denial of the Letter of Intent/Application.

Why do city-related grants have to be prioritized by the mayor?

This is to make sure the city government approves of the project. Getting the mayor’s prioritization isn’t a legal obligation for us to fund the project—it’s just for us to take the mayor’s recommendations into account. All city projects are required to upload a resolution from their governing body in the Letter of Intent.

Why do school-related grants have to be signed by the superintendent?

To ensure that the school board is aware of the project and approves of it.

Is a Letter of Intent Required?

Yes! It’s the first step in applying for funds. In fact, you need to have your letter submitted by the deadline date to be eligible for funding.

You must submit the letter through our online grants management portal. Please note that we use this letter to determine whether or not you meet our funding criteria. If you do meet the criteria, we will send you a follow-up email detailing the next step in the application process. Without this email—and without the Letter of Intent that prompts it—you will be unable to apply for a grant.

NOTE: Please don't email or mail us actual letters of intent. It will be extra work for you when we ask you to fill out the letter of intent in the online grant portal. 

How much money has been awarded to projects in the Cedar Valley?

Through August 2022, Black Hawk County Gaming Association has committed over $70 Million to 657 different projects located in 51 communities in the Cedar Valley.

Who is eligible to apply for a grant?

Groups applying for grants must fit into one of three categories:

  • Public agencies
  • Educational organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations with 501c(3) or 501(c)19 determination from the Internal Revenue Service.

How many dollars does BHCGA have to distribute each year?

This varies. The Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo sends us distributions on a weekly basis. At the end of each funding cycle, the Board of Directors reviews how much we received and then makes a recommendation on how much we should award in grants. In general, we try to keep the income and distribution even. We only keep enough to meet our own expenses and obligations.

Does Black Hawk County Gaming Association fund Operating Costs?

Yes, but only for new programs. BHCGA will consider letters of intent from nonprofit 501(c)3 and 501(c)19 agencies for operating expenses when the agency is creating a new program only. The application much discloses expected costs and the means by which funding will be sustained. Requests for funding for existing or repeat programs will not be considered.

Playground Equipment

BHCGA prefers funding for playground equipment available to the public or large groups rather than for limited client use, such as daycare centers.

Property Tax Funded Vehicles

Requests for property tax-funded vehicles greater than 50% will generally not be funded.

Broad Project Support

Grant applications are required to include the source of funds. The board prefers to fund projects that demonstrate having wide community support demonstrated by the commitment of other funds.

Attached Foundation Support

If an applicant has an attached foundation, the board prefers projects that are supported by the 501c3 foundations. Foundation funding indicates support for the proposal and its importance to the organization. Please contact the office for further questions. 319-433-1153

Publicity Guide

If an organization receives funding, the board asks Grantees to acknowledge the contribution to the program or project wherever and whenever appropriate. This will include, but not be limited to news releases, social media posts, construction signage, plaques for project sites, decals, brochure or programs, etc. You can find more information and an example of a press release on the Publicity Guide or call staff for more information.