Iowa Valley Community College District awarded $1 million state grant

The Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) has been awarded a $1 million Career Academy Initiative Fund (CAIF) grant from the state of Iowa.

President Anne Howsare Boyens said IVCCD staff tried to get a grant from that fund on four previous occasions. The fifth time was the charm. They got word of the award last week.

“The funds will be used to enhance our career academies on the Grinnell campus,” she said.

The career academies are used to give high school students the opportunity to take college courses. Like Marshalltown Community College, the Grinnell campus gives area high school students the opportunity to learn about certain careers.

“Marshalltown has more students, but students from Grinnell can graduate with a high school and associate’s degree,” Howsare Boyens said. “The scale of the communities are different, but there are very similar outcomes.”

While Grinnell will be the campus to receive the money, she said IVCCD is the big focus as the entire district serves students who are in high school and college at the same time.

“We have wonderful partnerships with the school districts,” Howsare Boyens said. “We give the students a jumpstart at higher education while completing high school. That is a large focus of the district.”

She said high school students and families can save a lot of money by going through one of the career academies. A two-year associate’s degree has 64 credits, and students can save almost $12,000 if they get that college degree when they graduate high school.

One of the key factors in the career academies at both Grinnell and Marshalltown is staff, according to Howsare Boyens. Staff members have connections with high school counselors to help keep students engaged.

“That is the first part,” she said. “Once they are in the classes, we have advisors to help plan the steps. Faculty in our facilities are making sure the students are supported and succeed. We have incredible faculty.”

The money received from the grant will enhance the Grinnell automotive, certified nurses aide, gunsmithing and entrepreneurship programs. There is a lack of employees in all of those career fields in the area. For example, Howsare Boyens said auto dealers have reached out to IVCCD asking for technicians who wish to remain in the area.

She said the programs complement one another nicely. A student can learn about automotive or gunsmithing, and then use the entrepreneurship program to open his or her own business.

The CAIF is supported by a statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE). The Iowa Department of Education may award up to $5 million in competitive grants annually, operating up to two competitions each year. IVCCD was included in the eighth round of awards since the program was launched.

“I cannot give thanks enough to Robin Lilienthal, Ashtyn Beek and Maryanne Nickle. They are the ones who worked on the five applications for years. Now we finally have the sources. It’s wonderful to see,” she said.

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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