Hills Bank donates $1 million in 40 years to Iowa City schools

[The Gazette] Hills Bank donates $1 million in 40 years to Iowa City schools

Iowa City Community School District school counselor Diamond Quaye receives the district’s Shine Award in November, supported by the school’s Foundation. (Iowa City Community School District)

Grant Elementary School teacher Melissa Galloway (center, fifth person for the right) poses with students and staff in the school in December after receiving the Iowa City Community School District’s Shine Award, supported by the school’s Foundation. (Iowa City Community School District)

IOWA CITY — Over the last 40 years, Hills Bank & Trust has donated more than $1 million to Iowa City schools, with the first gift in 1982 as one of the first donors to the district’s foundation.

“Community support of our schools is critical when it comes to inspiring, enriching, and expanding efforts to reach every student in our district,” said Susan Brennan, executive director of the Foundation for the Iowa City Community School District. “Partners like Hills Bank are critical to that work and we are incredibly grateful and humbled by their level of support. From student organizations to team meals to recognizing staff to mainstay programs like the Visiting Author, Hills Bank and their generosity reach all areas of our schools.”

Dwight Seegmiller, CEO of Hills Bank, said the bank is honored to be a long-standing partner and supporter of Iowa City schools. Since the bank was founded in 1904, it has worked to foster community growth through volunteering, sponsorship and involvement in schools and youth programs in their communities, Seegmiller said in a news release.


“Our co-workers engage with students to develop their leadership skills through programs like Youth Salute and the Hills Bank Leadership Grant Scholarship. Our Classroom Cash program provides direct donations to local school districts. We are proud to support students through school programs such as the Visiting Author Program, Iowa City Music Auxiliary, Global Issues Conference, and Banzai Financial Literacy,” Seegmiller said.

The foundation supports many programs at schools across the district. During the 2021-22 school year, the foundation infused more than $800,000 into the school district through scholarships to students, grants to teachers and educational programs.

One of the programs supported by the foundation is the Any Child Fine Arts Program, which helps provide equitable arts education for all students in grades K-8. The experiences that are a part of this program includes:

KinderTales, which allows every kindergarten student in the district to enjoy a morning exploring the Iowa Children’s Museum and participate in an interactive storytelling experience. Students learn the importance of storytelling and are taught to value input from their classmates as they build on their own stories.Symphony Goes to School provides 1,500 third- and fourth-graders in the district the opportunity to learn about classical music. Musicians from Orchestra Iowa visit each elementary school and perform live in small ensembles, teaching students about their instruments.

At the junior high and high school level, the foundation supports arts experiences; the Equal Opportunity Schools program in an effort to close the achievement gap and ensure equitable enrollment in Advanced Placement classes; and innovative learning spaces called Makerspaces, among other programs.

For employees, the foundation supports an employee recognition program called the Shine Award. This honors employees who go above and beyond for students. Another award called the Silver Salute recognizes staff celebrating 25 years of service or those who are retiring from the district.

Foundation Looks for New Leader

In December, Susan Brennan, executive director of the foundation, announced her plan to step down effective June 1. Brennan began working with the foundation in 2012 by leading the EveryClassroom Technology Campaign that raised $2 million for local schools.

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Since becoming executive director, Brennon has dramatically increased giving to the schools. The foundation now raises funds to support scholarships, grants and programs that touch all of the district’s 29 schools.

“I am humbled by the community’s support of our area public schools. Working together, our schools will continue to be robust examples of innovation in public education,” Brennon said.

A national search for the next executive director launched Jan. 3. Details are forthcoming on a farewell event for Brennon to be held at the end of the academic year.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

Source: The Gazette