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Career Academy Incentive Fund


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The Career Academy Incentive Fund provides targeted grants to support partnerships between school districts and community colleges that expand access to career academy programs, with a focus on programming delivered through regional centers. Annually, the Iowa Department of Education awards grants of up to $1 million for projects that best meet the criteria specified in statute. The number of grants issued are based on the amount of available funds and types of applications received.

Career Academy Incentive Fund Overview

Apply Now for the 2023-24 Academic Year

The Iowa Department of Education is currently accepting applications for the Career Academy Incentive Fund, FY24 first round. See the Application and Resources section below for the application and support materials. Submit application and support documentation to Heather Meissen at by Nov. 16, 2023.


To be eligible, applications must include one school district and one community college. Proposals for new career academies delivered collaboratively between multiple school districts and a community college through a regional center will receive priority consideration.

Regional Center and Career Academy Comparison - Provides a brief, high-level overview of a regional center in comparison to a career academy program. These two terms are interrelated, but not similar concepts and this document draws out the distinctions between the two.

Career Academy

According to the Iowa statute, career academies are career-oriented programs of study that link secondary career and technical education to a postsecondary education program. The career academy concept has three key elements:

  1. Concurrent enrollment coursework where students earn both high school and college credit upon successful completion of community college coursework.
  2. A sequence of coursework with a career theme which provides an appropriate foundation for entrance into the postsecondary program.
  3. Strong partnerships between employers, school districts, higher education institutions and the community.

Regional Center

A regional center is a facility for the delivery of career and technical education programming. Regional centers must:

  • Provide access to at least four career academy programs.
  • Serve either a combined minimum of 120 students from at least two school districts or a minimum of four school districts.

Application and Resources

2023-24 Proposal Submission Instructions - Career Academy Incentive Fund

2023-24 Career Academy Incentive Fund Application

2023-24 Career Academy Program Application

Career Academy Incentive Fund Scoring Rubric