DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today awarded Iowa Western Community College a $1 million competitive grant through the Career Academy Incentive Fund to prepare more high school students for success in college, postsecondary training and the workforce.

Iowa Western Community College will use the grant to increase access to career academy programs in high-demand fields through a new regional center in Hastings, a small town in southwest Iowa. Students in partnering school districts will benefit from industry partnerships, earn high school and college credit and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education (CTE) programs. This is the sixth round of awards.

“Expanding career academies connects education with the workforce and helps build a strong talent pipeline in our communities,” said Gov. Reynolds. “I commend Iowa Western Community College for their dedication and leadership in expanding opportunities so more rural Iowa students have the opportunity to prepare for high-skill, high-demand careers.”

The new regional center, called Southwest Iowa Technical Career Hub (SWITCH), will serve students from six districts in southwest Iowa — East Mills, Fremont-Mills, Glenwood, Griswold, Sidney and Stanton. The location is centrally located to the other participating schools, making it a prime location for students. When the center opens, students will have access to CTE programs and state-of-the-art equipment in high-demand fields, including industrial maintenance, health care,  construction technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

“Through these innovative partnerships more high school students will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience, connect with local employers and earn industry credentials and college credit,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Chad L. Aldis. “I am thankful to Iowa Western Community College and local school district leaders for their efforts to grow career academies.”

The Career Academy Incentive Fund was established by a 2019 law that extends a statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), through January 2051. At least $1 million will be awarded annually to support career academy partnerships among community colleges, school districts, business and industry, Regional Planning Partnerships, Area Education Agencies and others to increase student access to college programs, state-of-the-art equipment and career paths in Iowa’s in-demand fields.

Expanding student access to high-quality career and technical education is part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is focused on growing a skilled workforce in all regions of the state by connecting more Iowans to the education and training needed for high-demand careers.

Applications for a seventh round of funding through the Career Academy Incentive Fund will be open in August. More information is available on the Career Academy Incentive Fund webpage.