$10 Million Donation Launches Innovative Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs


“Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus” is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Council Bluffs, Iowa. (DECEMBER 14, 2005) — The Charles Lakin family announced that they are contributing $10 million to build a non-profit, multi-agency human services campus in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to be called The Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus. This is a $30 million dollar campaign with construction and equipment cost of $24 million.

This is one of the largest donations ever made by a single family to a Council Bluffs charity, and the five-agency social service campus will be the only one of its kind in the United States, according to spokespeople. Charles Lakin, who was born in Emerson, Iowa, owns the Lakin Company, a real estate investment firm headquartered in Omaha with interests in both Iowa and Nebraska.

“Charles E. Lakin has improved every piece of property he’s owned,” said Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan, “both in his home state of Iowa and his adopted state of Nebraska. In the process, he has not only enriched his company but the lives of people in both communities. His charitable motivations reflect that same approach — to leave the communities in which he’s lived a better place for children and families. The city of Council Bluffs is deeply indebted to Charles Lakin and the Lakin family for this unprecedented gift.”

The agencies that will make up this unique campus include American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartland Family Service, Micah House and The Salvation Army. The campus will consist of three separate buildings, including a residential facility for homeless women and children, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, various classrooms and meeting rooms, parking accommodations, a playground, appropriate green space and coordinated design features that efficiently and economically connect all of the elements. The location is being researched and will be announced at a later date.

Announcement of the contribution was made at a press conference today at City Hall in Council Bluffs by Chuck Lakin, son of Charles Lakin; Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan, Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of Heartland Family Service; and Todd Graham, executive director of the Iowa West Foundation. Several other Council Bluffs business and civic leaders were also present.

“This is a very happy day for my family,” Lakin said. “My father was born and raised in southwestern Iowa and developed his business in Nebraska. Both states have given us all so much. We are very pleased to be able to give something back, especially to launch such an innovative concept that will help so many people on both sides of the Missouri.”

Lakin announced the donation on behalf of his father, who was in Arizona. “If my father were here,” Lakin said, “I am sure he would say that if his gift results in lives being saved, in families having a safe place to live while they get back on their feet and in young people becoming good citizens. He will be very pleased with this ‘investment.’”

“As a representative of the Iowa West Foundation, let me say that we are delighted to be one of the first partners in this tremendous project,” said Graham, executive director of the Iowa West Foundation. “We have provided pre-development planning funds and are in the process of considering additional significant funding,” he added.

“Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Lakin and the collaboration of the five hardworking agencies, this campus will have an immense positive impact in the region,” stated Graham. “The vision of the Iowa West Foundation is to create a community where families choose to live because of the quality of life and the standard of living — this is truly a visionary project.”

“To the best of our knowledge, this unique collaboration is the only venture of its kind in the United States. It is innovative to combine service delivery with residential space,” Graham said. “Co-locating nonprofit public service agencies offers economies of scale and synergies.”

“One of our priority areas of interest for grants is human and social needs,” explained Lynn Grobe, the foundation’s board president. “This project will help the community in its efforts to meet these needs,” added Grobe.

“The agencies had approached our foundation regarding new initiatives in Council Bluffs,” Graham said. “We encouraged them to come together and examine the benefits of co-locating.”

Tulipana, explained that the boards of directors of each of the five agencies then authorized them to explore this as a group, aided by planning and design professionals.

“This campus will provide an incredible opportunity for collaboration as well as the integration of the services provided by all five agencies,” Tulipana said. “The collaboration will insure that all of the agencies involved will maximize the community resources available to them. The campus setting will enhance the ability of the agencies to integrate the delivery system and thereby increase the opportunities for successful life change for the children and families who seek our help. We believe that co-locating our activities presents a more effective and economical approach to service delivery.”

Tulipana said that by collaborating, the five partner agencies will not only serve the community better than they could individually, but will also save millions of dollars. “As individual agencies, we projected that it would cost $35 million for each of us to build the facilities we need,” Tulipana said. “Together, we project saving a minimum of $10 million in building costs. We will also save our donors hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced operating costs.”

Beyond the financial savings, the Lakin family was equally impressed with the inherent value of having these agencies located only steps apart. “They will be able to serve so many of the same people,” Lakin said, “so many of whom lack transportation and child care.”

Mayor Hanafan said that this multi-agency human services campus benefits the neighbors, the city and the region in many ways. “We are deeply grateful to the Lakin family. This campus will provide our citizens with new, more and better social services to a wider range of people, many of them in crisis,” Hanafan said. “In addition, this campus will serve as an anchor development bringing capital investment, new jobs and business to our city.”

Hanafan said that, of the $1.5 million in collective payroll projected on the proposed campus, over half of it is a net addition to the city. The collective annual operating budget for the five agencies equals $2.8 million. The $24 million development budget will create construction jobs for several years, with accompanying indirect economic stimulus. In addition, Hanafan said these agencies are expected to provide over $140,000 in direct financial assistance to local residents facing financial crises due to unexpected medical or home heating bills, unemployment or other needs.

Tulipana said that the recently enacted “Katrina” tax legislation adds an extra incentive for charitable gifts made before year-end. “This law contains a one-time provision that lifts limits on the amount you can deduct for charitable contributions for 2005,” Tulipana said. “Ordinarily, that deduction is limited to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income. To encourage giving, the new provision allows donors to deduct cash contributions of up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income. Interested parties should consult with their accountants.”

Individuals who want to help support the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus can make donations to Heartland Family Service/Human Services Campus.