The Iowa Department of Education has announced that an additional $830,000 in competitive grants was awarded to another 17 Iowa school districts through the second round of the Credentials to Careers grant. This funding opportunity supports high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs that provide students with valuable opportunities to earn industry-recognized credentials while in high school.

“By expanding opportunities to attain an industry-recognized credential in high school, the Credentials to Careers grant helps connect the classroom to the workplace,” said Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow. “Students earning portable, stackable credentials will be ready to succeed in high-wage and public-good careers, changing lives and strengthening communities. Encouraged by the tremendous response of schools and industry partners, the Department is leveraging additional federal funds to increase support for Credentials to Careers grants from over $1.7 million to over $2.5 million. We commend the new awardees for their leadership in realizing our shared priority to expand multiple pathways to postsecondary success.”

Twenty Iowa schools received awards through the first round of Credentials to Careers grants in April. Due to the strong response from school districts to this opportunity, the Department leveraged additional federal funds to support another 17 districts in aligning CTE programs with student attainment of an industry-recognized credential. A total of over $2.5 million has been awarded through the Credentials to Careers grant.

“We are excited to extend this opportunity to more Iowa school districts,” said Dennis Harden, section chief for the Department’s Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness. “By aligning CTE programs with opportunities for students to attain stackable credentials with labor market value, Iowa schools can ensure students have more options and clearer pathways to success in higher education and future careers.”

The following 17 school districts are the newest recipients of the Credentials to Careers grant: 
●    Ankeny Community School District
●    Burlington Community School District
●    Carroll Community School District
●    Cedar Falls Community School District
●    Danville Community School
●    Davis County Community School District
●    Denver Community School District
●    Diagonal Community School District
●    Fort Madison Community School District
●    Iowa City Community School District
●    Manson Northwest Webster Community School District
●    Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Community School
●    North Union Community School District
●    Riverside Community School District
●    South Winneshiek Community School District
●    Southeast Polk Community School District
●    Westwood Community School District

An industry-recognized credential is a verification of an individual’s qualifications in a certain field and can include certificates, degrees or licenses vetted by employers and endorsed by a nationally recognized trade association or organization in a particular industry. By offering industry-recognized credentials in Iowa schools, students will be equipped with specific skills and training experience that employers are seeking.

In determining awards, competitive district applicants demonstrated clear, sustainable plans to align one or more existing CTE pathways with student attainment of industry-recognized credentials. Allowable costs could include student exam fees, instructional equipment, non-consumable instructional supplies, computer equipment and software, wired and wireless internet connections, installation costs, instructor training related to new equipment purchases, instructor training expenses required to offer the credential and curriculum enhancements.

Funds for the Credentials to Careers grant are provided through the Iowa Department of Education’s portion from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (APR ESSER) Fund to address state-level educational efforts.