Iowa Lakes Community College has received word that it is the recipient of a grant which will help the college strengthen partnerships with high schools as well as area business and industry.
The Iowa Department of Education Intermediary grant provides funds which target critical connections, especially within STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create relatable workforce learning activities and opportunities for high school students in the Iowa Lakes region.
These areas are important to enhancing economic development and growth of the Iowa Great Lakes area.
“The Iowa Lakes Intermediary Connections Coordinator will target these critical connections,” said Valerie Newhouse, President of Iowa Lakes. “The college already possesses a strong relationship with the 11 high schools in this region and we are well-prepared to facilitate the Intermediary Program.”
Currently, Iowa Lakes hosts regular informational and professional development meetings with area superintendents, high school teachers and high school counselors.
In addition, the Iowa Lakes Career Academy provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about specific career opportunities while earning concurrent credit enrollment in high school and college. Current Career Academy programs are listed on the Iowa Lakes website.
High school students also have an opportunity to take the ACT® WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate assessment at each of the college’s Success Centers.
The grant funding the program will have a three-pronged approach. First, the Iowa Lakes Intermediary Connections Coordinator will establish a monthly network of “Career Ticket” sessions at the college campuses for high school students.
“Students will explore various career opportunities and learn about necessary skills within various professions,” said Kari Hampe, Secondary Programs Director. “Experts throughout the region from various industries and area businesses will provide first-hand knowledge sharing discussions with students who will have a chance to inquire further into a particular career field.”
In addition, Iowa Lakes will provide professional development opportunities for secondary students and teachers.
“Professional development opportunities will include the chance to job shadow, tour regional businesses and industries, participate in internships at a worksite, and join in career-advising sessions,” said Mark Gruwell, Executive Dean of Instruction and Development. “Professional development opportunities will help to incorporate the soft skill strategies needed for success in today’s market, as well as first-hand career readiness knowledge.”
Third, Iowa Lakes will create a one-stop website to provide high school educators with the tools they need to help secondary students beyond high school. The website will provide industry credentials information, salary and wage information (according to each career pathway), and required skills needed within a particular field. The overall goal is to provide students with the necessary tools they need to succeed and make educated decisions on their future professional goals.
The Intermediary position will serve alongside a network of statewide intermediaries to connect regional industry and business entities with high schools. This network will share ‘best practices’ and partner with the greater region and throughout the entire state of Iowa.
This $96,665 grant will leverage the investment the college has already made in current resources and aim to serve underrepresented students interested in STEM-related careers, including Advanced Manufacturing fields as well as other area needs.
“Providing quality education to all students is a priority at Iowa Lakes Community College,” said Pres. Newhouse. “The Intermediary Program will encourage a career readiness focus, STEM-related career interest, and greatly help to bridge the gap of workforce needs throughout our entire region – and across the state.”
Welding instructor Emily Gottsche (right) talks with Estherville High School students Jacob Loftis and Darian Stein about the benefits of new technology in the college welding lab. Area high school students will benefit from strengthened partnerships with area business and industry which will be facilitated by Iowa Lakes through an Iowa Department of Education Intermediary grant.