DES MOINES, IOWA (February 16, 2021) — Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today awarded three $1 million competitive grants through the new Career Academy Incentive Fund to prepare more high-school students for success in college, postsecondary training, and the workforce.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC), Indian Hills Community College, and Waterloo Community Schools each won a $1 million grant to increase access to career academy programs in high-demand fields through new and expanded regional centers. Students benefit from industry partnerships, earn high-school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education (CTE) programs. The Career Academy Incentive Fund aligns with the Future Ready Iowa goal of 70 percent of the workforce having education or training beyond high school by 2025. This is the second round of awards.

“Expanding career academies develops our workforce talent pipeline and prepares high school students for high-skill, in demand careers right here in Iowa. It’s about our students being able to find something their passionate about while also earning valuable industry experience and college credit,” said Gov Reynolds. “I commend EICC, Indian Hills, and Waterloo for their leadership in growing career academies to meet the needs of students, families, schools, and employers in their local communities.”

EICC’s grant will be used to create a new regional center in DeWitt to serve students from eight rural districts in eastern Iowa. Waterloo’s funds will be used to expand its career center, which serves seven surrounding school districts and three nonpublic schools. Indian Hills will establish a new regional center in Centerville for seven southern Iowa school districts. At these locations, students will have access to CTE programs in high-demand fields, including health care, advanced manufacturing, welding, engineering technology and agricultural sciences.

“Through these partnerships, students often earn industry credentials and certificates that they can take directly into the workforce and be highly marketable, or have a solid foundation to succeed in further postsecondary education,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “This is a great step toward ensuring all students have the opportunities career academies offer, and I am looking forward to more of these innovative partnerships being established.”

The Career Academy Incentive Fund was established by a 2019 law that extends a statewide penny sales-tax for school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), through January 2051. At least $1 million will be awarded annually to support career academy partnerships among community colleges, school districts, business, and industry, Regional Planning Partnerships, Area Education Agencies, and others to increase student access to college programs, state-of-the-art equipment and career paths in Iowa’s in-demand fields.

More information on the Career Academy Incentive Fund is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

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