The Ray Center at Drake University receives four Prairie Meadows grants

Significant grant will make CHARACTER COUNTS! programming accessible to every early childhood and kindergarten classroom in Polk County

Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino has awarded The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University four grants totaling more than $210,000 to support initiatives that benefit Iowans.

  • The largest of the four awards is a Legacy Grant that will support an initiative to deliver CHARACTER COUNTS! for Early Childhood programming to every early childhood and kindergarten classroom in Polk County. CHARACTER COUNTS! is designed to provide a foundation for good character and citizenship that children and their families can build on throughout their lives.
  • A Community Betterment Grant was awarded to fund the CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative in Mitchellville Elementary School. The school will receive professional development training for faculty and staff, teaching tools, assessments, and more.
  • A Community Betterment Grant was awarded to support the 2023 Iowa Character Awards. The Ray Center annually presents the Iowa Character Awards to individuals and organizations who exemplify good character. Award recipients were honored at an event on July 28 at the Prairie Meadows Event Center.
  • A Youth Sports and Recreational Grant was awarded to fund The Ray Center’s annual Pursuing Victory With Honor Summit. The Summit brings together high school student leaders from across Iowa to learn strategies to sharpen character skills like grit, resilience, and good decision-making.

“CHARACTER COUNTS!’ vision to help create strong, vibrant communities focusing on values-based education aligns with Prairie Meadows vision to give back to our community,” said Julie Stewart, vice president of business development at Prairie Meadows. “We are dedicated to creating opportunities that are seen and felt across our community, now and well into the future.”

“We’re proud of our longstanding partnership with Prairie Meadows,” said Scott Raecker, executive director of The Ray Center. “These grants provide valuable resources to Iowans and help promote good character, civility, and ethical leadership. We are grateful for Prairie Meadows’ dedication to transforming lives and strengthening communities.”

Prairie Meadows supports Iowa nonprofit organizations that support arts and culture, education, economic development, and human services. In central Iowa, a nonprofit partnership between Prairie Meadows and Polk County has generated more than $2 billion in funding for more than 30 years on projects that improve, strengthen, and beautify central Iowa.

Through public awareness and programming grounded in research, The Ray Center helps create strong, vibrant communities that value positive, healthy relationships and respectful behavior. The Ray Center’s initiatives benefit people of all ages and are easily adaptable for families, schools, workplaces, and athletic organizations.