Former Rock Island mayor establishes fund to support efforts addressing climate change

Mark Schwiebert hopes the first round of grants from the Mark W. Schwiebert Fund for Environmental Studies will not only increase awareness about the environmental challenges posed by climate change, but also provide funding for research projects aimed at facing those challenges head-on. “Climate change is one of the great threats we face as a species in this environment,” said Schwiebert, who started the fund at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend (CFGRB) in 2015.

The grants are aimed at funding research projects and educational endeavors that will continue the work toward finding solutions for climate change. Up to $2,500 per year can be awarded to an organization, and grants may be made for one or two year timeframes. Nonprofits, colleges and universities, and governmental organizations may apply 

“The grants are intended to be modest, but strategic,” Schwiebert said. “I’m glad to be able to do it and I’m hopeful it will result in outcomes.”

Schwiebert’s passion for environmental issues began more than two decades ago. An attorney and the former Mayor of Rock Island, he has supported local and national initiatives that address climate change throughout his work. “We saw a record year for the number of major disasters involving climate events in 2016,” Schwiebert noted. “There were droughts and wind storms, tornadoes and earthquakes,” he said, and they will only continue to increase, “creating terrific hardship and human suffering.”

More than 40 percent of the world lives in coastal areas, he added, and by 2050 those communities could be inundated with natural disasters. “It’s something we can no longer ignore. What kind of world are we leaving our children and grandchildren?”

For Schwiebert, the world he wishes to leave is one in which we care for our surroundings, offer opportunities for others to bring creative solutions to challenges, and work with one another to make our community stronger. CFGRB, he said, helps him do that now—and forever.  

“CFGRB represents the largest single place for donors like me who wish to start a fund that will live on. They have a great track-record of philanthropic success and bringing people together,” he said. 

Starting the fund two years ago is not Schwiebert’s only interaction with CFGRB. He also serves on the Amy Helpenstell Foundation Fund’s advisory committee.

Kelly Thompson, Vice President of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives, said the Mark W. Schwiebert Fund for Environmental Studies is a wonderful example of how one person can make a significant difference in the community. “Mark’s passion and leadership has translated into wonderful opportunities for local educators, scholars and students,” she said. “This fund is not only his contribution to this area of study, but to the lives of many people.” 

The following are the inaugural recipients of the Mark W. Schwiebert Fund for Environmental Studies:

  • Eastern Iowa Community Colleges: Audit for Compliance of Environmental Protection Agency Regulations, $1700
  • Augustana College: Sustainable Urban Watersheds Project, $2500
  • Bi-State Regional Commission: Alternative Fuels and Transportation Workshop, $2500

To learn more about how you can make a gift to support community efforts you are passionate about, visit www.cfgrb.org or call Anne Calder, Vice President of Development, at 563/326-2840. 

"We'll be able to do more to preserve historic materials. It's a gift that will help our community for years to come."

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