DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education today announced that $1.7 million in competitive grants are available to Iowa school districts to align secondary career and technical education programs with industry-recognized credentials. The new Credentials to Careers grant will support high schoolers earning credentials with labor market value.

“By expanding opportunities to attain an industry-recognized credential in high school, the Credentials to Careers grant helps connect the classroom to the workforce,” 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.”

Industry-recognized credentials are certifications, credentials or licenses that are vetted by employers and endorsed by a nationally recognized trade association or organization in a particular industry. Credentials are available across many career pathways, including those in health sciences, information technology, construction, manufacturing, child development, culinary and business.

Credentials to Careers grant

By aligning CTE programs with stackable credentials, students can build critical skills to pursue in-demand careers and can accelerate further advanced credential or degree attainment. These stackable credentials are portable, can be accumulated over time, build upon previous skills and can help close the skills gap between what employers need and the competencies students possess. These opportunities build upon authentic work-based learning, CTE programs and concurrent enrollment options across Iowa.

Funding through the Credentials to Careers grant can be used by school districts to develop, broaden and enhance CTE pathway programs. Allowable costs 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.

Applications for the Credentials to Careers grant will be accepted on beginning today, Jan. 11, 2024. The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at 11:59 p.m.

More information about the Credentials to Careers grant, including a list of the approved industry-recognized credentials, is available on the Industry-Recognized Credentials webpage.

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.