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Opportunity for all

April 9, 2024

One City United has a clear goal: to provide a pathway for all, regardless of their past, to thrive and succeed. The organization has been working to help end crisis, poverty, and addiction in Waterloo since 2018.

One City United nurtures potential and transforms lives through programs like Momentum, an employment program that teaches vital soft skills and provides knowledge to overcome barriers, and To Work, a program focused on transportation needs.

The only requirement for participants in One City’s programs is having two or more significant barriers to employment or life. Common barriers include criminal background, addiction, and homelessness. This model creates a diverse and equitable environment. “The simplicity of the model just creates equity. It creates inclusion. It creates diversity,” said Dean Feltes, One City United executive director.

But One City United isn’t just about finding jobs; it’s about helping people believe in themselves. Through partnerships with employers, they advocate for giving opportunities, not second chances. “You have some of the best employees you’ll ever find if you create an environment for them to be able to thrive and give them the opportunity,” said Dean.

Community partnerships are at the core of One City United’s success. The nonprofit has a clear identity and collaborates with other organizations to provide wrap-around services. “That’s always my dream, is to see more organizations partnering together and just making a bigger impact in people’s lives,” said Dean. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa is a funding partner with One City, providing $39,000 in grants to the growing organization.

Dean’s ultimate objective is to make generational impacts that lead to a community where One City is no longer needed. “The goal is to create this amazing synergy where we’re not even needed anymore because people are thriving.”