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Iowa Department of Education, Iowa College Aid award start-up grants to expand college, career transition counselors

Date: Friday, April 2, 2021

$50,000 each awarded to six community colleges in partnership with local school districts

"press release"DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa College Aid today awarded six $50,000 competitive grants to help establish new college and career transition counselor positions that will focus on preparing more high school students for success in college, postsecondary career training and the workforce.

Des Moines Area Community College, Hawkeye Community College, Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa Valley Community College District, Kirkwood Community College and Western Iowa Tech Community College each won a start-up grant to support new college and career transition counselors who will work in partnership with area school districts and their students and families to support career exploration and transitioning to college and career training. The college and career counselors will work closely with high school juniors and seniors during the school year as well as the summer after high school graduation and their first year of college or career training.

“Expanding college and career transition counselor roles will help more students explore opportunities and take steps for continued success beyond high school,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “I commend our community colleges and school district partners for their commitment to ensuring students identify their future goals and stay on a path to gain the education and skills needed for rewarding careers.”

The grants will support 13 new college and career transition counselors who will work with students in 22 school districts across the state—ADM, Ames, Ankeny, Boone, Cedar Rapids, Collins-Maxwell, East Marshall, Estherville Lincoln Central, Grinnell-Newburg, Interstate 35, Johnston, Knoxville, Okoboji, Ogden, PCM, Perry, Sioux City, Southeast Polk, Spencer, Van Meter, Waterloo and West Des Moines.

Supported by the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, commonly referred to as Perkins V, and additional financial support from Iowa College Aid, the three-year grants will help establish college and career transition counselors for academic years 2021-22 through 2023-24. To make these shared positions sustainable, ongoing funding will be provided by the colleges and districts.

“Our research shows that about 1 in 5 high school seniors who intend to start college don’t actually get there,” said Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan. “These counseling positions will be crucial to helping more young Iowans follow through on their college plans.”
Iowa College Aid will provide training and professional development through its Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy. Iowa’s Area Education Agency Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership (AEA PREP) will assist with ongoing training and program evaluation.

Expanding college and career transition counselors statewide aligns with the state’s Future Ready Iowa goal, which calls for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

This is the first year of awards. Applications for future three-year grant cycles will be open in 2022 and 2023.

More information is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.