Governor Reynolds announces $1 million career academy competitive grant awarded to North Iowa Area Community College
DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today announced that North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City won a $1 million competitive grant through the Career Academy Incentive Fund to prepare more high school students for success in college, postsecondary training and the workforce.
The proposal will expand access to career academy programs in some of the region’s most in-demand fields through a new regional center in Forest City. Career academies are programs of study in which students benefit from business and industry partnerships, earn high school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education (CTE) programs.
“Expanding career academies provides our high school students additional pathways to rewarding, high-demand careers right here in Iowa. This new regional center in Forest City will offer young Iowans the opportunity to earn college credit while gaining necessary hands-on experience,” said Gov. Reynolds. “I commend NIACC for being a leader in expanding career academies, meeting the needs of schools, local employers, and communities in north central Iowa.”
Through the proposed location in Forest City, students from North Iowa, Lake Mills, Forest City and Garner-Hayfield-Ventura school districts will have access to CTE programs in high-demand fields, including health care, advanced manufacturing, construction and information technology. The new center will be the first to serve students in NIACC’s north central Iowa service region.
“Cost of equipment for capital-intensive programs, a shortage of qualified teachers and lack of opportunities for work-based learning in small towns are just some of the barriers that NIACC’s career academy proposal addresses,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “Through this partnership, more students will have access to in-demand career pathways and the opportunity to earn college credit and gain skills needed for high-demand careers.”
“NIACC is thrilled to be awarded the first CTE grant to support the creation of a regional career training center in rural Iowa. This grant, paired with a generous gift from the Hanson Family Foundation, will allow us to partner with four rural school districts to build a facility which will offer high-quality career technical training in Forest City,” said Steve Schulz, NIACC president.
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 between community colleges, school districts, business and industry, Regional Planning Partnerships, Area Education Agencies and other partners to increase student access to college programs, state-of-the-art equipment and career paths in some of Iowa’s most in-demand fields.
Expanding student access to high-quality career and technical education is part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is focused on growing a skilled workforce in all regions of the state by connecting more Iowans to the education and training needed for high-demand careers.
More information on the Career Academy Incentive Fund is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.