Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center awarded $500,000 from Enhance Iowa

The Enhance Iowa Board formally approved a $500,000 award to the new Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center planned in Decorah.

On Dec. 2, based on a recommendation from the Iowa Community and Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Committee, the Enhance Iowa Board formally approved a $500,000 award to the new Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center planned in Decorah.
Winneshiek County Development and Tourism Executive Director, Stephanie Fromm, expressed her excitement about the award. “We are so happy with this award. The application required our WCDT team to put in hundreds of hours and our fundraising committee was phenomenal at securing the matching dollars we needed. Our community really stepped up to the plate to donate. We also would not have been awarded this much without the contributions that our largest partners, the City of Decorah, Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors and Winneshiek Medical Center committed to the project specifically for this grant.” 
Fromm reported the project was the only one of 17 projects awarded funding that the CAT Committee discussed going beyond their usual funding cap of $500,000. While the CAT Committee ultimately felt that they had to respect their $500,000 self-imposed limit, Fromm noted, “It was great to hear individual Board members express their support for our project and our community.” The project was one of two projects awarded the maximum amount.
WCDT Project Coordinator Lora Friest and Sunflower Project volunteer Merlene Brown attended the meeting in Des Moines with Fromm. Brown noted, “I just want to express gratitude for the award and am excited about the impact this will have on our community. The momentum for this project is incredible!” Friest explained, “We knew that if we could build community support, secure contributions from the city and county and matching funds from the community, that we had a great shot at this funding, but it is still rewarding to see all our efforts come to fruition. We clapped and celebrated for five minutes but now we’re on to the next grant applications. Actually, we are already working on three other state and federal grants for the project to be submitted within the next six weeks and our fundraising committee has ramped up their efforts with a $1 million fundraising goal by the end of the year. We all believe in this project so it’s certainly an energy burst to have new partners invest.”
For more information on supporting the Child Development and Discovery Center Campaign, contact Stephanie Fromm, Board Member at, 563-382-6061. To learn more visit

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