The IAAHF was founded in 1995 in Des Moines, Iowa, by the Connect Foundation, which is an incorporated nonprofit network of volunteers that promotes improved community relations. The purpose of the IAAHF is to recognize outstanding achievements of African Americans with respect to enhancing the quality of life for all Iowans. It is our hope that such achievements will serve as an inspiration to all populations and that each person can make a contribution through dedication, persistence, and the pursuit of excellence.
The Connect Foundation, searching for a permanent home for the IAAHF, reached an agreement with the Black Cultural Center, Inc., at Iowa State University in 2002. The Black Cultural Center, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that provides cultural services and educational materials to students, schools, colleges and universities, educational associations, and the ISU/Ames community. The corporation was established in 1969, and the center opened for service to the ISU/Ames community on January 1, 1970. Since opening the Black Cultural Center has been a home-away-from-home for black students and a house of hospitality for everyone living in or visiting the ISU/Ames community.
As of today 61 individuals and Iowa Tuskegee Airmen Pilots have been inducted into the IAAHF since 1996. Because the IAAHF serves as a great role model for young adults and the same is true of George Washington Carver, who was inducted into the IAAHF in 2005, the George Washington Carver Leadership Academy was established in the fall of 2005. The Carver Leadership Academy, as a division of the IAAHF, sought out Iowa urban high school seniors and college students of diverse backgrounds to participate in a rigorous leadership development program that focused on character, human relations, and civic participation with the goal being the development of outstanding individuals who will make a contribution to the quality of life of all citizens, thus continuing the legacy of George Washington Carver. That program has discontinued upon the retirement of Dr. Jackson and has been replaced with two scholarships.