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Reynolds announces initial Employer Innovation Fund grants


Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced the first 13 recipients of the new Employer Innovation Fund, a matching grant program designed to help employers carry out plans to help their employees achieve postsecondary training and education. 

The first round of the grant program, a component of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, will distribute over $400,000 to employers across the state. The $1.2 million in funding available for the grant program is part of $16 million appropriated by the Iowa Legislature earlier this year to fund Future Ready Iowa programs. 

“The Employer Innovation Fund drives innovation in meeting the workforce challenges of today and tomorrow,” Reynolds said in a news release. “These public-private partnerships address barriers for Iowans looking to get the training they need for a life-changing career. The collaboration happening at the grassroots level serves as a catalyst for Future Ready Iowa’s continued success.” 

The purpose of the grant is to provide opportunities for working Iowans to earn noncredit and for-credit postsecondary credentials leading to high-demand jobs in the state. Employers, community leaders and others can apply by submitting a proposal for implementing a creative solution to their local workforce needs.

“Employers are a critical part of reaching our Future Ready Iowa goal of having 70 percent of Iowans with postsecondary credentials by 2025,” said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development director. “The Employer Innovation Fund is unique because it empowers employers to find creative ways to strengthen their local workforce and build upon Iowa’s talent pipeline.”

Among the Central Iowa grant recipients are: 

– Ruan Transportation Management Systems/Des Moines Area Community College: The grant will provide support for three DMACC students who are currently employees of Ruan to participate in DMACC’s Employer Sponsored Technology Pathway. The match is being paid by Ruan; DMACC will make an effort to recruit underrepresented groups to participate in the program. To qualify, students must be a high school graduate with no postsecondary credential.  

– Central College/Pella Talent Pipeline Apprenticeship School: The grant will help provide core curriculum for high-demand occupations with a primary focus of providing wraparound services for individuals seeking apprenticeship opportunities after high school. The integrated system will provide professional mentorship as well as opportunities for participants to earn high-demand stackable credentials and associate degrees in addition to completing apprenticeships. The leading cohort for this project represents Pella Corp., Vermeer Corp., Precision Inc., Pella Community Schools, DMACC, Central College and the PACE Alliance.

The second round of Employer Innovation Fund applications will begin Sept. 4 and close on Nov. 8. For more information about the Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund, visit www.FutureReadyIowa.gov/innovation

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