Martha and John Bonte Educators With Big Hearts

From meeting each other at St. Olaf College in the 1960s, to teaching by each others’ sides at Clinton Community College for more than 40 years, Martha and John Bonte have always shared a passion for giving back to their community. 

“We see our careers in education as being another way of giving to the community,” says Martha. “I think there is this awareness that we have as members of the community to do our part. Other people made available all of these community amenities and services we’ve benefited from and it makes sense to us to do whatever we can to maintain and expand them.” 

As a board member of the River Bluff Community Foundation, Martha learned about the IRA Charitable Rollover. This federal legislation allows individuals age 70 ½ and up to donate up to $100,000 to charities from an individual retirement account without a tax penalty.

The Bontes donated a portion of their required annual distribution to support River Bluff’s Community Impact Fund, an endowed fund dedicated to meeting future community needs and responding to unknown challenges. Donations to the fund most recently supported a childhood hunger program that supplied lunches for kids during the summer. 

“We thought that this was an interesting way for people to be charitable in such a way that we’re not necessarily feeling the pinch,” adds Martha. “I want to encourage other ‘ordinary’ people to see that there are ways they can give back too, even if they don’t have the kind of wealth that many people do when they fund a hospital wing or a big new building at a university. Giving can be done in smaller ways that is still very helpful and very significant.”

The River Bluff Community Foundation works to build and strengthen communities by bringing together people and organizations like the Bontes who want to make a difference in Clinton, Iowa. 

Photo Credit: Rachael Keating/Clinton Herald. Used with permission.

To learn more about the River Bluff Community Foundation, visit

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About Us
Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.