Impact of a Servant Heart
ReShonda Young is a dreamer, entrepreneur, mentor, visionary, and community leader, but all she does is built on a foundation of service. “Service was always my heart, and the leadership comes out of that. It’s natural for me. It’s just how I’m made,” said ReShonda.
While ReShonda’s servant heart involves her in many projects, her efforts to shrink the wealth gap for Black Americans and other minoritized populations through the creation of the Bank of Jabez is her boldest to date. According to ReShonda, the Black-owned, Black-led bank is a way to change the system from the inside instead of changing the current culture of financial institutions. A lifelong Waterloo native, her service is tied to her love of her community, which is why she purchased property for the future home of Bank of Jabez in a Waterloo neighborhood where her future customers live. “So many people are working so hard to make this a really good place to live for all people. Just to be a part of that ecosystem of people is such a blessing for me, and to have found that in the place I grew up,” said ReShonda.
ReShonda is also committed to helping lead CFNEIA, where she serves as Vice Chair of the board of directors and is a member of both the CFNEIA investment committee and the Black Hawk County grant distribution committee. “I choose to align myself with the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa because I see the difference that’s being made,” said ReShonda. “It’s definitely a place I feel like I need to be if I want to make the greatest impact for the community, which is where my heart is.”
For ReShonda, all her leadership efforts are tied to making an impact. “So much of what I do is very intentional and purposeful around impact and how you make the community better.”
“So many people are working so hard to make this a really good place to live for all people. Just to be a part of that ecosystem of people is such a blessing for me, and to have found that in the place I grew up.”
– ReShonda Young
North End Cultural Center
North End Cultural Center uses the arts to move its community forward on a path to understanding and racial equity. The organization does this by sharing the gifts and talents of the residents of Waterloo’s northeast side and by engaging youth in arts-based educational enrichment. In 2022, the volunteer-led organization hired its first employee, naming Felicia Smith-Nalls part-time Artistic Director, leveraging a $30,000 mission fulfillment grant from CFNEIA. The position allows for organizational growth and provides steady leadership. The organization also received a $20,000 Black Hawk County grant in 2022 to support its North End Arts and Music Fest and Hip Hop Literacy youth program which highlight Black culture, foster cultural awareness and understanding, and promote literacy and creativity.
Being a leader for good is the history of CFNEIA, but for funders to make communities better for all people, they must go beyond traditional grantmaking. It requires action as a visible leader and behind the scenes. CFNEIA is leading the way as a connector in our communities through programs like Women for Good, Teen Trust, and the Cedar Valley Nonprofit Association. We have also taken intentional steps forward to amplify those doing racial equity work and to lead it when necessary. In 2022, CFNEIA extended its leadership role, implementing our impact model which creates a staff structure to increase engagement in our communities, put more trust in our nonprofit partners, and bring people together. We know leadership is a responsibility, and we are taking bold action for community solutions.