Past Recipients

DuRide Transportation Services

DuRide is a local non-profit organization that provides a safe and personalized transportation option for seniors who are unable or not willing to drive anymore.

DuRide offers friendly volunteer drivers and door to door services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year!

Since it was founded in 2008, DuRide has proudly fulfilled every ride request and has served the Dubuque, East Dubuque and Ashbury community seniors by providing over 1,000 rides a month. In doing so, DuRide has allowed seniors to maintain their independence while staying connected with family, friends and the community.

The charitable donation rewarded from the McDonough Foundation has allowed DuRide to support a specialized web-based volunteer program that will help the organization’s 160 active volunteers schedule rides around the Dubuque area.  In conjunction with the new Ridescheduler program, DuRide has utilized the grant to fund an extended outreach and marketing campaign. These efforts have increased both the number of active volunteers as well as the number of memberships.

In 2018, DuRide hopes to continue to grow their services to help more Dubuque seniors by simply getting them where they want to go safely and in an economically efficient manner.


A Season of Giving: Why local philanthropy matters

As we begin to wrap up the year and wrap up presents for family and friends, the holiday spirit tends to put people in the giving mindset. Here at the McDonough Foundation, our giving season is a little earlier, but the effects can be seen throughout the year.

2017 marked our fifth season of giving through the legacy of Jim and Melita McDonough, continuing their pattern of philanthropy and charitable giving to the Dubuque area. Jim and Melita were quite modest about their giving, but were very passionate about giving back to the community.

Through a long-time friendship with Jim, Dale Repass has aided in the continued philanthropy of the McDonough’s, serving as a board member and financial advisor for the trust.

The Foundation gives grants to local nonprofit organizations in Dubuque and the surrounding Eastern Iowa communities, specifically those organizations that provide educational opportunities, human and social services, and healthcare for children and their families.

This year, 75 organizations received grants with a total payout of $497,000. Organizations receiving these grants include numerous schools in the area, such as Loras College and Clark University, as well as the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools, Aquin Catholic Elementary School, Seton Catholic Schools, St. Patrick Catholic School and many more centers of education. After school and camp programs have also received funds this year, such as the Dubuque Community Y and Camp Courageous.

Local food banks were on the receiving end of the grants, as well, such as the Dubuque Food Pantry, the NE Iowa Food Bank and St. Stephen’s Food Bank. The American Red Cross, Hillcrest Family Services, Dubuque Rescue Mission, Riverview Center and other human and social services were awarded funds. Centers for arts and learning in the area were granted money as well, including the Dubuque Museum of Art, the Bell Tower Theater, Friends of the Dubuque County Library, the Maquoketa Art Experience and Iowa Women Lead Change.

Nonprofit organizations rely on grants and donations like ours. Through the selection process, the directors here at the McDonough Charitable Foundation choose applicants based on their service to a specific need in the community, and the process is set up so organizations without a professional fundraiser on staff can easily request assistance.

As stated in the title of “nonprofit,” these organizations oftentimes have small staff doing big work on a small budget. With our grants, we provide hope to organizations, showing that their hard work is important and can continue.

If you’re looking to make an impact in the community this holiday season, here’s some activities to participate in with various levels of involvement to fit any schedule:

  • Instead of giving a gift, consider donating to your favorite nonprofit in their name. It’s the thought that counts, and your gift recipient will know they made a difference.
  • Volunteer! If you are unsure of where to start, contact United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States and find an opportunity you will enjoy. Also available through this organization is group volunteer opportunities for your family, business or organization.
  • Donate non-perishable food items to the local food bank, or find a way to support a child who’s family can’t afford lunch. Hungry children and adults are less productive and more distracted, so providing a meal not only nourishes their body, but also their mind.
  • Donate gently used clothing to shelters and group homes, they are always in need of warm clothing to pass out.
  • Have your child donate gently used toys, games and books to be used as gifts to those less fortunate. Not every family can afford a visit from Santa, so these donations can make a child’s holiday season that much better!
  • Visit a nursing home or take small gifts to families with extended stays in the hospital. Elderly people with no family get lonely during this time of year, and families with lots of medical bills to take care of will appreciate the gesture of gift giving, even if the items are small.

This year, make your holidays a season of giving, and you may be surprised to find that giving feels so much better than receiving. Happy Holidays from your friends at the McDonough Foundation!

Mary’s Inn Maternity Home

In November 2012, Marian Bourek, Sue Lansing, and Colleen Pasnik founded Mary’s Inn Maternity Home, a maternity home for single mothers in crisis pregnancies. They knew through a variety of experiences with Dubuque County Right to Life, the Archdiocesan Gabriel Project, and in conversations with community agencies, a maternity home was necessary for the Dubuque community. Mary’s Inn offers vulnerable women of any age and of any (or no) faith a safe haven where they can stay while learning the skills they need to make a better life for themselves and their babies.

The generous donation from the McDonough Foundation in 2017 assisted Mary’s Inn in paying a salary for their Lead House Staff, also known as Lead House Mom. The Lead House Staff arranges weekly Life Skills speakers for presentations, assigns chores, assists residents with the “Earn While You Learn” DVD curriculum, gives out Baby Bucks every week, makes sure the staffing schedule is covered, and much more.

Colleen Pasnik, Director of Mary’s Inn says, “Our greatest resource is our staff and the interaction they have with the residents. This is the third year the McDonough Foundation has donated money to our program, and we deeply appreciate the fact that they recognize that people are our greatest resource. They are one of the only foundations around that recognizes this and that is why they are our favorite.”

Since June of 2015, Mary’s Inn Maternity Home has served 14 women and their babies.

Dubuque Museum of Art

The Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA) thanks the McDonough Foundation for its generous support in 2016, which allowed the museum to present an expanded series of arts learning opportunities for children, adults and families such as:

In the Mind’s Eye

With support from the McDonough Foundation, in 2016 DuMA expanded a program that addressed mental health care, one of the fastest-growing areas of need for older adults in Dubuque. Called ‘In the Mind’s Eye,’ this set of monthly programs for adults with early-stage dementia and their caregivers were held in the galleries and led by trained museum staff and docents, who utilized works of art to stimulate conversation between seniors afflicted by memory loss and their loved ones.

Program sessions began in June 2016 with five couples. The program was held on Saturday mornings when the museum was closed to the public. The first program wased by DuMA Director of Education Margaret Buhr, with participants discussing Grant Wood’s painting “Appraisal”.

Subsequent meetings in July and August focused on interpreting paintings in the museum’s permanent collections. Those with dementia and their caregivers participated in extended and lively discussions about the artwork.

Second Saturdays Family Series

With the McDonough Foundation’s assistance, DuMA continued a popular series of free, family-friendly events, called Second Saturdays, that offered a culturally diverse and integrated view of the arts. Every second Saturday of the month, DuMA presented a short performance, featuring local and regional actors, musicians or dancers, followed by a hands-on activity in the classroom. Each month featured a different theme, performer and teaching artist.

Between July 2016 – and April 2017, the museum presented a total of eight Second Saturday programs, reaching more than 700 adults and children.

 Adult Lunch and Learn Series

Between July 2016 – April 2017, DuMA presented a total of three-lunch-and-learn programs with another three-part program that happened in May 2017. Highlights included the University of Iowa International Writing Program Fellows presenting works of creative writing and Loras College Professor Kristen Bricker speaking on Alfred Caldwell’s architectural contributions to Dubuque’s Eagle Point Park.

Bell Tower Theater

The Bell Tower Theater is a not-for-profit community theater located in historic Dubuque, Iowa. In 2003, they opened their doors with the play Oz, a musical based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Since then the theater has presented more plays and musicals than any other theater in the area. In addition to plays and musicals, they run an award-winning Youth Program which began back in 2005. Their mission is “to provide a high-quality and dynamic community program of live theater, education, and events for residents of and visitors to the Tri-State Area.”

This 2017 season marks 15 years for them. Something they are extremely grateful and proud of.

Thanks to the generous donation from the McDonough Foundation, last year the Bell Tower Theater was able to purchase a new ticketing system, which allows them the ability to pull up customers and see what tickets they have bought in the past, as well as knowing if their kids are involved in the Youth Program, and if they have ever volunteered. The system has saved them immense time and money.

This Year, the Bell Tower Theater is going to use the grant donated from the McDonough Foundation to transition their microphone and sound system from analog to digital. They are replacing microphones which were purchased back in 2003 and switching them out with new technology. This provides better sound quality, fewer expenses, and they’re able to use rechargeable batteries. The McDonough Foundation is the first grant to make this process, and push the Bell Tower Theater into the 21st century!

Maquoketa Art Experience

They say, “The earth without art is just – eh.” Thanks to the Maquoketa Art Experience the earth will never fall short to these two small syllables.The Maquoketa Art Experience (MAE) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2008, located in downtown Maquoketa, Iowa. MAE is dedicated to art education, fostering

The Maquoketa Art Experience (MAE) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2008, located in downtown Maquoketa, Iowa. MAE is dedicated to art education, fostering appreciation of the arts, and building the community by engaging the residents of Maquoketa and surrounding areas, in diverse creative activities. Their mission is to develop and cultivate an expanding interest in art within Jackson County residents and visitors, by supporting lifelong learning and sustaining their cultural heritage.

With the generous donation from the McDonough Foundation, the Maquoketa Art Experience was able to create an artistic children’s center where kids can entertain themselves with artistic materials while parents enjoy the gallery inside MAE’s building. The artistic center includes tables, painting easels, and children books that discuss painting and artists. There is also an artistic self-directed computer program, similar to Leap Frog, called VTech.

The Maquoketa Art Experience is grateful to the McDonough Foundation for their generous support to their program by helping them to inspire others to appreciate the arts in their everyday lives.

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Iowa Dental Foundation

Established in 1994 as a non-profit foundation to benefit the public, the Iowa Dental Foundation’s (IDF) vision has been to be the primary facilitator of dental health programs in Iowa, with a mission to create opportunities that improve the oral health of Iowans. Thanks in part to the generous grant donation by the McDonough Foundation, who approved the grant because the IDF provided dental services in Dubuque last year, the IDF can work towards making this vision a reality. They have used the grant to help rent the portable dental stations, which include chairs, lights, and suction machines, all which wouldn’t be possible without this aid.

The Iowa Dental Foundation is also proud to announce, with the help of this grant and their 970 professional and general volunteers, they’ve been able to treat 1,268 patients in 2016, and to date, in nine years, have treated 13,000 patients totaling 8.5 million dollars in free dental care.

With the financial help from the McDonough Foundation, the Iowa Dental Foundation can continue to improve the lives of thousands of Iowans each and every day.

Northeast Iowa School of Music

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They say music is the strongest form of magic. For the Northeast Iowa School of Music, also known as NISOM, magic will be in the air on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in an intimate benefit concert. Michael Gilbertson, a Dubuque native and award-winning composer, conductor, and pianist, will perform a benefit concert with a group of fellow rising stars from the international music scene.  Michael is also a NISOM alumnus and created this event as a way to give back and help NISOM continue its mission.

In 2009, Michael founded the annual music festival, ChamberFest Dubuque Gala Performance, which brings young classical artists to his hometown for concerts and educational purposes. As part of the mission of education, ChamberFest Dubuque also includes a student workshop on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, where local musicians can learn from ChamberFest guest artists at Loras College.  This is free and open to the public, thanks in part to the grant support provided by the McDonough Foundation. Children, as well as adults, are encouraged to participate.

Be a part of this enchanted experience. Get ready to listen and to learn. A composer may only be one person, but with students, instruments, and with the wave of a wand, an orchestra can ignite. Join in on this magical experience.

Friends of Dubuque County Library


Tomie dePaola, a famous children’s novelist once said, “Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.”

With the generous donation from the McDonough Foundation, the Friends of Dubuque County Library can now establish the program “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” This is a national program implemented on the local level which encourages parents to start reading to their children shortly after birth, with the goal of a 1,000 books read to their child before entering school. If parents read just book a day with their children, over five years they will have read 1,825 books!

The Friends of Dubuque County Library will be hosting an event this April to kick-off the program and ensure it launches with the awareness needed for success. The McDonough Foundation encourages everyone to pick up a book whenever you can, and to always remember what Dr. Suess said, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to your child.”

Loras College

loras college

Since 1839, Loras College, Iowa’s oldest college, has strived to create a community of active leaders, reflective thinkers, ethical decision-makers and responsible contributors, which made them excellent recipients for the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation Grant.

The McDonough Foundation grant has been used to renovate Keane Hall.  The 103-year-old building is the most visible building on the campus. According to Dan Conway, Ph.D., professor of business analytics, “The James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation funding was critical in making possible the renovation of historic Keane Hall — the new home to the Center for Business Analytics.”

The Center for Business Analytics added technology-advanced classrooms, meeting and seminar rooms, a lounge and seven faculty offices. Additionally, Loras College will use grant funds to renovate the entrance of Keane Hall, making it handicap-accessible.

With the financial help of the James and Melita McDonough Foundation, Loras College can continue to excel in developing principled thinkers and caring professionals in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions for many years to come!

Toys for Totstoysfortots

Part of the mission of the James and Melita McDonough Foundation is to promote charitable activities to children and families in and around Dubuque. Therefore, their grant fares well with Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a year-long program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which collects and distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.  The new toys represent a message of hope.

The Dubuque Toys for Tots serves Dubuque and Clayton Counties in Iowa, Grant County in Wisconsin, and East Dubuque and Jo Daviess County in Illinois. Because of generous supporters, such as the McDonough Foundation, the Dubuque Toys for Tots organization has provided over 20,000 toys to over 5,200 kids since its inception 15 years ago. In addition to the toys, over 40,000 books have been donated to schools in the area.

Bryce Parks, the coordinator for Dubuque Toys for Tots inherited the program along with a “big red truck and a lot of work,” after his father “Toy Bob” passed away in 2009. Bob was a former Marine who took over leadership of the local chapter in 2004. Parks, who also owns 365ink Magazine in Dubuque, is amazed at what he can accomplish for Toys for Tots in his “free time.” He is quick to add that he doesn’t do it alone. It is through support from volunteers, along with donations and grants from foundations like the McDonough Foundation, that they can deliver so many toys to children over the years.

Parks says, “Toys for Tots helps eliminate the financial burden for parents during a stressful time of the year.” The generosity of the McDonough Foundation means that more smiles will be brought to the faces of children and their families not only this Christmas, but for many Christmases to come.

Iowa Women Lead Change

The James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation strives to support non-profit organizations that provide charitable and educational opportunities in Eastern Iowa. The grant they presented to Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) in 2015 helped do just that.  IWLC is Iowa’s premier leadership organization for women, offering comprehensive leadership resources including events which feature prominent speakers, frequent networking opportunities, and other important services to advance women in all aspects of their lives.

The McDonough Foundation has been critical in bringing IWLC to Dubuque, Iowa. IWLC’s Chief Operating Officer, Tiffany O’Donnell, stated, “Iowa Women Lead Change would not be in Dubuque without the early support from the McDonough Foundation. Their generous grant in 2015 was the spark IWLC needed to ignite the women’s leadership movement in Dubuque.” In addition to bringing this leadership movement to Dubuque, IWLC was able to spread their mission even more in 2015 by hosting three additional conferences throughout the state of Iowa; Des Moines, Sioux City and Cedar Rapids.

For IWLC, what started as a grassroots effort in 2006, has evolved into a movement which is considered the thought leader on talent development and inclusiveness.  IWLC has continued to grow with the generosity of the McDonough Foundation. O’Donnell says, “Since the first McDonough grant, more than 700 women in the Dubuque region have benefited from leadership development at all levels.”

IWLC looks forward to working further with the McDonough Foundation in the future, as well as the continued relationship with Ann McDonough, who has served on IWLC’s CEO Forum Panel. O’Donnell says of Ann, “We are grateful for her passion, energy and generosity for the organization’s mission.” IWLC would not be where it is today without the support of charitable contributions from organizations and individuals helping the mission of advancing women’s leadership.

Camp Courageous

Dubuque Charity - Camp Courageous

Jim & Melita McDonough were active with Camp Courageous during their lives, and it has been heartwarming to see their legacy continue long after their passing, through the good works of the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation.

In 2013 the McDonough Foundation gave funds to help install a HVAC (heating, ventilation, & air conditioning) system in camp’s pool facility after the old system caved in.  Now, thanks to the McDonough Foundation, and others, we have a beautiful ceiling system that works perfect. The pools are a favorite activity for campers.  The freedom to leave one’s wheelchair, or just to play in this beautiful area, is tops on most camper’s list of things to do.

In 2014 camp had a small fire in the staff dormitory kitchen…which was a warning, we needed to do more to protect that facility against fire.  Even though the building was highly alarmed against fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide…we needed the building to be sprinklered.  Being in rural Iowa and not having access to large quantities of water, meant obtaining huge storage tanks and then putting the system in about 25-rooms.  Thanks to the McDonough Foundation, the building has a sprinkler system and everyone sleeps better, as a result.

In 2015 the McDonough Foundation provided funding for camp’s new Durgin Pavilion, located along the shore of Lake Todd, all adjacent to base camp.  This new structure, currently being constructed will house camper activities that adds to Camp’s year-round activities.  It will include a two-lane bowling ally in the basement, with a main floor that will be wide open, as a multipurpose area for campers.  This facility we see being the hub of camp’s year-round activities for campers.

Camp Courageous is a year-round recreational and respite care facility for individuals with special needs.  It is run on donations, with no government assistance, no formal sponsorship, and no one is paid to raise money for the camp.  The camp is in its 41st year, growing from 211 campers served in the summer of 1974 to over 7,000 in a year-round program today.  From a staff of 12 to a staff of nearly 100.  From 40-acres to 200-acres.  And from 5-buildings to 25-buildings.  The McDonoughs have been involved throughout all this tremendous growth.

Dubuque Regional Humane Society

Dubuque Charity - Dubuque Humane Society

Over the years, the McDonough Foundation has impacted the lives of thousands of animals served by the Dubuque Regional Humane Society. Most notably, the Foundation’s generosity toward the DRHS’ new facility has enabled an increasing number of pets to remain healthy and happy until finding their forever home. The James B. & Melista A. McDonough Foundation Feline Adoption Mall includes a high-tech ventilation system and spacious accommodations for adoptable cats. Because of these innovations, cats and kittens experience less stress and illness, shortening the time it takes to get them into caring, loving arms.

Clarke University

Clarke University StudentsThe McDonough Foundation has provided funding for state-of-the-art instrumentation, allowing Clarke’s Chemistry Department to offer exceptional hands-on lab experiences. Students use the HPLC and GC columns to analyze samples with cutting edge technology.  The Cary Eclipse Fluorescence Spectrophotometer is essential in biochemical analysis of proteins and student research projects.  We are very grateful to the McDonough Foundation for their generous support of our program.