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Okoboji Foundation


The Foundation was started in 1988 by a small group of individuals who were dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Iowa Great Lakes.

Originally named the University of Okoboji Foundation, Berkley Bedell served as the first Board Chairman. The first board members met weekly to seek membership pledges of $100,000 from area businesses and individuals allowing the first grants from the Foundation to be given in 1989.  

In 2006, the Foundation changed its name to the Okoboji Foundation to establish the organization as a Community Foundation. Through the years, the Foundation has worked to preserve what is wonderful about the Lakes and ensure its future by granting over $4.4 Million to 81 different non-profit agencies in the region.

Today, the Okoboji Foundation is the center point of giving for vital capital projects. Current funding priorities focus on Arts & Culture, Economic Development, Lake Quality & Environment, and Outdoor Experiences & Recreation.  It’s through the generosity of donors that the Foundation continues to make a positive lasting impact in the Lakes Community.

Through the leadership and philanthropic vision of Berkely Bedell, initial membership contributions established the base for an organization that continues to create ripples of impact in the Iowa Great Lakes now and into the future.

Our Affiliation

The Okoboji Foundation is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. As an affiliate, the Okoboji Foundation benefits from cost-efficient, centralized professional services.