A retired Polk City man has launched an on-line business that caters to grandparents, and plans to give a-fifth of its profits to three non-profit agencies that help children. John Calhoun launched www.iowagrandparents.com on Thursday. He says the “web-based business” will provide quality child development information and provide a forum for grandparents to ask questions and “network” with other Iowans, some of whom are raising their grandchildren on their own.
Just over three percent of Iowa kids are living in a household headed by a grandparent, according to Calhoun. Calhoun is charging a 25-dollar “joining” fee to gain access to his website, and members can direct five-dollars of that to one of three groups. One of those is the Institute for Character Development at Drake University. Former Iowa Governor Robert Ray, the Institute’s chairman, says they’ll use some of the money to help develop new ‘Character Counts’ material targeted to grandparents. “Grandparents can make a big difference — either way,” Ray says. “Character Counts provides a method, a means by which people can learn good character and practice it.” Ray says grandparents want to do what’s right and the website will offer them a way to do that.
IowaGrandparents.com members can also designate their five-dollars goes to the state to help a statewide program that evaluates child care centers and promotes early childhood education. Shanell Wagler of the Iowa Department of Management says the money they get from Calhoun’s business will be used to help provide technical assistance to local boards that’re working on child care issues. “I’m really excited about the public-private partnership possibility here and how we’re going to move it forward,” Wagler says.
The third program folks can direct part of their membership to is the Iowa Afterschool Alliance which helps establish after school programs to keep kids out of trouble. Grundy Center Y-M-C-A director Chris Francis says kids get into the most trouble between three and six in the afternoon. He says nearly half a million children in Iowa could benefit from after school programs. Calhoun says he’s not sure he’ll make a profit at his business, but if he does start to make money, he’ll start offering grants to child-centered programs around the state.