RELEASE: Great Outdoors Foundation Awards First Conservation Fund Grant

DES MOINES, IA (Jan. 10, 2024) – The Great Outdoors Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded Polk County Public Works the first gift from its new Conservation Fund, a strategic, environmentally-focused investment mechanism. The $200,000 grant from the Great Outdoors Foundation Conservation Fund will be used to implement urban wetlands and streambank stabilization within the Fourmile Creek and South Skunk River Watersheds.

The Great Outdoors Foundation Conservation Fund was launched last year with the goal to match value-driven donors with expertly-selected investment opportunities, ultimately yielding high impact for the environment and high return for partners. The Conservation Fund is designed to produce timely, desirable outcomes via a proprietary capital stacking model that leverages private investments to unlock public funding.

With just a $100,000 invested in a planned urban wetland in Ankeny, the Great Outdoors Foundation Conservation Fund has activated upwards of $1.3 million in public funding. This equates to about a 13:1 public to private funding ratio, a significant multiplier for private donors such as Athene USA, the Conservation Fund’s foremost investor. The permanent infrastructure involved with this project will treat stormwater, reduce erosion, and create flood storage, ultimately managing more than 400 acres of untreated urban drainage.

“We are thrilled to support these innovative water quality solutions and know that they will yield benefits for our community in the decades to come,” Hannah Inman, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Outdoors Foundation, said. “Public-private partnerships and creative capital stacking are what enable the Conservation Fund to garner significant results for our investors and the environment.”

“The Great Outdoors Foundation has been a long-time partner of our water quality initiatives,” John Swanson, Water Resources Supervisor for Polk County Public Works, said. “The organization’s inventive approach to fund sourcing allows us flexible options to maximize our impact by meeting match requirements and tapping into existing public allocations.”

In addition to funding the Ankeny wetland, the grant will underwrite streambank stabilization in Polk County at a site currently dropping more than 4,500 tons of sediment into the South Skunk River watershed. Left unmitigated, the rate of erosion along this portion of Indian Creek was projected to damage county infrastructure within the next five years. Polk County Public Works staff will be utilizing river restoration practices to rehabilitate the waterway and ultimately reverse the compounding deterioration of the region’s natural resources.

For more information or to become a Conservation Fund investor, click here.

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About Great Outdoors Foundation

The Great Outdoors Foundation exists to advance conservation through innovation, collaboration, and stewardship. We are the foremost fundraising professionals in the conservation and outdoor recreation sector. Together, we activate meaningful, accessible initiatives that enhance our environment and improve quality of life. Over the last three years, we have invested more than $200 million in conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives, and we’re just getting started.

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