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$4M in state funding to expand regional career academies for rural school districts


Des Moines Community College and three other community colleges have each been awarded $1 million from the Career Academy Incentive Fund. The state funding is intended to increase access to career academy programs in high-demand fields through new regional centers.  

Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa Western Community College and North Iowa Area Community College also received funding with DMACC in this third round of competitive awards, which were announced this morning by Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education.

Students in partnering school districts will benefit from industry partnerships, earn high school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education programs. 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.

Here’s how each community college will use the funding:

  • DMACC’s grant will be used to create a new regional center in Templeton that will serve students from four rural districts in west-central Iowa.
  • Iowa Lakes will use the funding to establish a new regional center on its Spirit Lake campus that will expand career academy programming to students in four surrounding districts.
  • Iowa Western will work with four rural school districts to establish a new regional center in Missouri Valley.
  • NIACC will establish a new regional center in Charles City to serve students from seven school districts in north-central Iowa. This is the second Career Academy Incentive Fund award for NIACC. The college was awarded the state’s first grant in 2020, which was used to establish the new John V. Hanson Career Center in Forest City.

At these new locations, students will have access to career and technical education programs and state-of-the-art equipment in high-demand fields, including advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, building trades, electrical trades, health care, information technology and welding.

“These innovative partnerships are vital to introducing more students to high-demand fields in programs where they can earn industry-recognized credentials and college credit,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “The new regional centers will help more students leave high school prepared for the workforce or ready for further postsecondary education, and I am thankful to these community college and school district leaders for their dedication to expanding career academy opportunities.”

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